ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 3 May 2010
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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND
Review of community television policy framework
140 Promenade du Portage
May 3, 2010
In order to meet the requirements of the Official Languages
Act, transcripts of proceedings before the Commission will be
bilingual as to their covers, the listing of the CRTC members
and staff attending the public hearings, and the Table of
However, the aforementioned publication is the recorded
verbatim transcript and, as such, is taped and transcribed in
either of the official languages, depending on the language
spoken by the participant at the public hearing.
Canadian Radio-television and
Review of community television policy framework
Konrad von Finckenstein Chairperson
Michel Arpin Commissioner
Len Katz Commissioner
Rita Cugini Commissioner
Marc Patrone Commissioner
Peter Menzies Commissioner
Jade Roy Secretary
Rachelle Frenette Legal Counsel
Aspa Kotsopoulos Hearing Manager
140 Promenade du Portage
May 3, 2010
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
Cheryl Gallant - Member of Parliament for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke 1100 / 5842
MTS Allstream 1115 / 5903
Crossroads Television System 1145 / 6104
Stornoway Communications 1150 / 6134
Rogers Communications Inc. 1175 / 6269
La Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec 1234 / 6615
Neepawa Access Community Television 1249 / 6699
Valemount Entertainment Society 1258 / 6742
Hellenic Community of Ottawa 1284 / 6937
Ottawa Slovak Community 1289 / 6959
--- Upon resuming on Monday, May 3, 2010 at 0904
5839 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning. Bonjour. Commençons.
5840 THE SECRETARY: We will now start with the presentation of the Member of Parliament for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, Madam Cheryl Gallant.
5841 You have 10 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
5842 MS GALLANT: Thank you.
5843 Mr. Chairman, I am the Member of Parliament for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. My name is Cheryl Gallant and as the Member of Parliament for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, I have a deep and abiding interest in the future of local community television. I wish to make it absolutely clear that I appear before the Commission today as the spokesperson for the people of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke.
5844 I respect the impartiality granted to the CRTC, as I know you respect my objectivity in appearing before you today. Please be assured that my comments today in no way should be construed other than as an acknowledgment of the complexity of the issues the Commission is tasked to oversee as we work on behalf of all Canadians. What we have before us today is just one piece of a large, complex puzzle and a process that must seek a middle ground, which is the Canadian way.
5845 My comments are not to be construed as government policy even though I am a proud member of the government caucus. My observations to you today reflect the views of the people who elected me to serve their interests. It is a privilege that I fight for their interests at any level and I can assure any constituent from Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke watching these proceedings that I will use every means at my disposal to give them a loud, effective voice in government in any forum that gives me that opportunity.
5846 It is almost one year to the day that I appeared before the CRTC to argue the case in favour of community broadcasting. That appearance was linked to the licence of our local private broadcaster CHRO in the Ottawa Valley and the continual deterioration of news and information content from the original viewing area covered by that licence.
5847 You may recall that while I made my presentation last year, a community-based camera crew from our local cable station was there to record the proceedings for the folks back home, and from what I understand he is still stuck in traffic today and hopes to get here in time to cover some of the proceedings. They were filming the day's proceedings for broadcast on the future of local television in the Ottawa Valley, community television brought to you by the people who live and work in our community.
5848 The decision to record the Commission hearing was made locally. No one had to call Toronto or Montreal or some other distant urban centre in this or that or any other country to make that decision. That is local television, 100 percent Canadian-owned and -operated by Canadians for Canadians. That is your Canadian content. I support local community television. The residents of the Upper Ottawa Valley support local community-based television.
5849 As the Commission was made aware when I appeared before you during the licence renewal application for the Pembroke, Ontario private conventional television station CHRO, application number 2009-0073-9, the Upper Ottawa Valley has experienced a gradual and continual decline in the amount of community programming available for local viewers from conventional television.
5850 The amount of so-called local content provided by CHRO has diminished to the point of that station being unrecognizable as a local channel. While 24 hours of local content per week was the recommendation of the CRTC, actual content fell far short. The cancellation of the 6:00 p.m. evening as well as the 11:00 news has left a huge void in our community.
5851 This is in sharp contrast to the service provided by our local cable community channel. Even with scarce resources, our community cable has sought to fill the gap in local programming. I have watched local community cable volunteers move on to successful careers in other media, I have participated in telethons manned by our local service clubs to support the important work they do in our community, and I have been a direct participant in community programming.
5852 Renfrew County, in addition to being the largest country geographically in the Province of Ontario, is primarily rural in nature, with a diverse population distributed very widely. This results in a number of challenges when it comes to the delivery of services. It is clearly evidence that circumstances and/or other factors have changed to warrant new considerations in the Commission's existing policy regarding community broadcasting.
5853 While private broadcaster the 'A' Channel promoted itself to the CRTC as a Pembroke station, in reality, continual staff reductions and the transfer of production and operations out of the Ottawa Valley made it clearly evident that CTVglobemedia was never committed to operating the Pembroke licence in the way the residents of our community expected. The effort and the resources were never allocated to make our station financially viable and a source of good local Canadian programming.
5854 I do not wish to be seen as being only critical of one of Canada's private broadcasters. Commissioners may be aware that the television station in Pembroke started as a CBC public broadcasting affiliate before being acquired by a private broadcaster. Where the public broadcaster failed, at least the marketplace continued to provide some of the level of service to the people of the Upper Ottawa Valley. So let's look at some of that history.
5855 In the CRTC Decision 96-542, August 28th, 1996, was stated the following:
"Upon disaffiliation from CTV, CHRO-TV will operate as an independent station authorized to provide a local service to Pembroke and Ottawa and the surrounding Ottawa Valley. While some local productions will originate from and reflect Ottawa environs, the Commission is satisfied that the applicant's programming plans and commitments will be effective in ensuring that much of CHRO-TV's focus and orientation will remain on Renfrew County and the upper Ottawa Valley."
5856 What has happened since? We have lost the 6 o'clock and the 11 o'clock newscasts on our corporate-owned private television station. With the acquisition of the Pembroke station by CTVglobemedia from CHUM in 2007, CHRO would now be required to compete for ad revenues against another Ottawa station owned by the same corporate parent. This accelerated head office pressure to cut local programming in Pembroke in their effort to maximize profit at the expense of local programming.
5857 The Pembroke location, which had gradually been losing local employees each time the station was sold, was reduced as of March 4th, 2009 to just two employees, a Pembroke-based salesperson and a roving videographer.
5858 While the 'A' Channel promoted itself to the CRTC as a Pembroke station, in reality, continual staff reductions and the transfer of production and operations out of the Ottawa Valley made it clearly evident that a different agenda was being implemented.
5859 I can tell you today that the people of the Upper Ottawa Valley are not satisfied with what has been happening to local community broadcasting. There is support for a market-based approach for local community broadcasting.
5860 The government broadcaster, CBC, has abandoned small town rural Canada in communities like Pembroke, Arnprior, Eganville and Barry's Bay. Now, particularly in the case of the Upper Ottawa Valley, residents have witnessed a gradual abandonment from the private broadcasters as well.
5861 This has created an opportunity for someone, either community television in some format or additional private licence holders, to fill a void that is consistent with the policy framework set out by the CRTC when it formulated its community-based media policies.
5862 I support the recommendation made by Dunbar and Leblanc to the Commission to remove the advertising restrictions and limits on community broadcasting on television.
5863 The Local Programming Improvement Fund, LPIF, should be used to fund the production of community programming. It should be mandatory for a private broadcaster like CHRO to financially meet its financial obligations, which currently are not being met, by providing direct financial support to a local community television broadcaster at an appropriate contribution level that, for a start, at least equals the rate of contribution by a broadcasting distribution undertaking, BDU, to the LPIF. By way of oversight, Canadian content would be monitored by the CRTC in the same way content with private broadcasters is monitored.
5864 Let the private broadcasters pay to get out of community television if that is their choice. The option should be removed from BDUs of contributing 2 percent of their contributions to Canadian programming to community channels. It should be a mandatory requirement. The production of local programming through the LPIF should be an additional reliable source of funding for local community programming.
5865 While I know there has been some discussion about relying on volunteers, realistically there is only so much that can be accomplished using volunteers. An organization that relies on a government-induced subsidy rather than the marketplace to survive in the broadcasting market is doomed to failure both financially and artistically.
5866 I also ask the Commission if it moves in this direction to consider a broader means of distribution than only cable subscribers. Particularly if the restrictions on advertising are removed, there is adequate funding in the system. It is not necessary to ask taxpayers to pour more money in a model, by admission of the current players, that is broken.
5867 The solution to providing greater Canadian content to Canadian viewers is a marketplace solution. I have every confidence in my fellow Canadians to rise to this challenge if given the opportunity. This is an opportunity for the CRTC to consider a bold new approach to community broadcasting, one that is not restricted to past models that have become outdated.
5868 The Upper Ottawa Valley is rich in culture, with a diverse history and many stories waiting to be told. Now is the opportunity to provide new direction and leadership to give expression to those stories. The time has come to put the boots back on the ground when it comes to local television.
5869 The residents of the Upper Ottawa Valley believe that local community television should be supported. TV viewers have a wide variety of national news and programming to choose from but are very limited in what they see and hear about their own community.
5870 On behalf of the people of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, thank you for the opportunity to participate in this process.
5871 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your comments and presentation and welcome back. You are one of the few MPs who takes an avid interest in our proceedings and comes twice, so we are very flattered by your attention to our issues.
5872 You are speaking about local TV and community TV as if they are synonymous, as if they are the same. Do you see them as being the same or what is the difference in your view between local TV and community TV?
5873 MS GALLANT: Community TV is people actually from the community, not necessarily employees of a station, who work together to produce their shows, whereas the other is more corporate and funded by commercials.
5874 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, that's exactly how we look at it and community TV is the community itself reflecting itself through productions, through activities, and for that reason we give the BDUs a choice to either put 2 percent into community programming or put it in the Canadian Media Fund as it's called.
5875 You suggest we should take that choice away. Actually that choice has been exercised 100 percent of the time in favour of the community. There is not one case that I know where a BDU has said no, I won't spend that money on community broadcasting, I will put it in the CMF. So if we follow your suggestion, I don't think it would mean anything different in the landscape.
5876 But then you also suggest, if I understand you correctly, that we impose an obligation on the local broadcaster to support community programming?
5877 MS GALLANT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
5878 In our situation the local cable channels, they are doing their best to provide the community programming but there just simply isn't enough money in terms of hiring the people that are necessary to provide consistent coverage to cover the gap that has been filled. They are doing remarkably so with very little infrastructure.
5879 So the goal is to have more money coming towards the community-based television to help fund the programming so that they can hire more people rather than relying only on volunteers. They have a system in place, they know the rules, they know the content and it is not as though starting from scratch or relying upon another body to distribute funds.
5880 THE CHAIRPERSON: But right now, your local BDU, who is it? Is Rogers your local cable company?
5881 MS GALLANT: The local cable company is Cogeco.
5882 THE CHAIRPERSON: Cogeco, okay. Cogeco provides 2 percent. Now, under the rules right now, 30 percent of that has to be access television, so in effect funding groups to produce and to show.
5883 Now, rather than what you are suggesting here, that we put a burden on the local broadcaster, wouldn't it make much more sense to increase the amount of access funding that they have to provide? So rather than it being, let's say, 30 percent, double it to 60 percent or something like that, which would then mean that the local community would have an ability to express itself on TV using the funds or the equipment provided by Cogeco.
5884 MS GALLANT: That is one option, yes.
5885 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Because your local station is CHRO, which is an 'A' Channel station, I believe, and you suggest they should provide financial support at least equal to the rate of contribution by the BDU through the LPIF?
5886 MS GALLANT: Yes. The 'A' Channel is there really in name only. There is no station to go to. If someone wants to -- for example, if an advertiser wanted to tape a commercial and use the studio, they would have to go to Ottawa. The infrastructure really doesn't exist anymore and the people aren't necessarily stationary there on a consistent basis.
5887 So given that they are not providing the local content as required by their licence, the recommended 24 hours, in lieu of that what they should do is take the money and put it towards the people who do want to provide the local community broadcasting.
5888 THE CHAIRPERSON: They are obliged to provide seven hours of local programming or local news per week. Are you telling me they are not doing that?
5889 MS GALLANT: The observation is that they are not providing the recommended amount. There is some but from our observation it is not the local programming that was intended and which had been in place originally.
5890 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. You are in favour of advertising. If I understand it, this would be advertising on the local community programming, on the local community television? So you are not afraid that the -- I mean we have heard from various people saying that there is a finite amount of advertising to be had in your area, Renfrew-Pembroke, and if you allow it, all you are going to do is dilute the pricing because there is only so much advertising available and it is all being used up by local television. If you allow community television to compete, it is a zero sum game.
5891 I gather you don't believe that?
5892 MS GALLANT: The observation has been that local companies are not advertising to the extent that they once did on the 'A' Channel because not as many people are tuning in. They are not tuning in because they are not seeing what is happening in their community.
5893 So it is not that there is -- well, there is a finite amount but they are not using what is available. If there was a community-based channel that people would tune into, then it would be in their interest to advertise on a station where the people are most likely to frequent their businesses.
5894 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. As a Member of Parliament, obviously you are close to the ground. And so, is it your view that people watch your community television as much as 'A' Channel or more or less? Because we have really no reliable figures on how popular community television is in various parts of the country.
5895 MS GALLANT: I have received correspondence from local -- I haven't done a formal survey across the Valley because not everyone is able to tune into cable television, given the geography of the land. It is my understanding that they are looking at ways of sending a signal through internet so that the community-broadcasted programs could be accessed that way.
5896 What I do hear is that people who had watched community TV want it back. But insofar as empirical data goes, I haven't collected any on that basis.
5897 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you very much. Do any of my colleagues have any questions?
5898 Well, thank you for coming and I appreciate especially the efforts you make to give us a reflection of what happens in local areas. That is very important for our consideration. Thank you.
5899 MS GALLANT: Thank you for the opportunity.
5900 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
5901 I would now ask MTS Allstream to come to the presentation table.
5902 THE SECRETARY: Please introduce yourself and you have 10 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
5903 MS CROWE: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
5904 Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Jenny Crowe and I am the Director, Regulatory Law, for MTS Allstream. With me today is Greg McLaren, Manager, MTS TV Content.
5905 We have asked to appear before you today to tell you about Winnipeg On Demand, the community programming that MTS Allstream delivers to our subscribers, and to express our view that the existing policy framework is generally working very well. Certainly, in the case of MTS Allstream, the current framework has been flexible enough to allow us to provide a valuable community programming service despite our small size and customer base.
5906 To begin this morning, we are going to show you a short video promo that provides a glimpse of Winnipeg On Demand programming. Greg McLaren will then describe our community programming in greater detail, after which I will provide you with MTS Allstream's perspective on a few of the issues that have been raised during the course of this proceeding.
5907 Do we have the video?
--- Video presentation
5908 MR. McLAREN: MTS Allstream provides community programming through our free Winnipeg On Demand service which we deliver to all MTS TV subscribers using video-on-demand.
5909 Winnipeg On Demand launched in 2007 and exhibits a broad range of community programming, including biographies of local people, interviews with community leaders, documentaries about Winnipeg's history, music performances, Aboriginal celebrations and general interest stories.
5910 In the broadcast year 2008-2009, we added 105 programs to the Winnipeg On Demand library and 86 percent of those were access.
5911 Winnipeg On Demand provides locally reflective community programming produced by local citizens featuring ideas they have proposed. To receive access, the community producer must live in the areas we serve and the subject matter must be intensely local.
5912 Once access has been granted, MTS Allstream gives producers the resources and editorial control they need to tell their own stories.
5913 In short, all aspects of the production are under the control of the community producers.
5914 Our role is to provide production expertise where it is needed, suggestions and guidance for telling a story and, of course, we ensure that nothing is defamatory or otherwise unsuitable for exhibit.
5915 When the production is over, in most cases our community producers own the rights to the shows.
5916 MTS Allstream has been careful to ensure that we keep administrative costs for community programming to a minimum. The vast majority of our funding goes directly into production.
5917 In addition, as part of Winnipeg On Demand, MTS Allstream has provided work experience for students at Red River College giving them hands-on experience in production and exhibition of television programming.
5918 We are now in the process of establishing operations to produce community programming for Brandon as well.
5919 The programming offered on Winnipeg On Demand has been extremely well received. In fact, for a week in October, 2009 two Winnipeg On Demand programs ranked in the top 10 of all programs viewed on MTS TV's VOD service.
5920 Given this success, we feel that there is no need to fundamentally re-write the framework for community television at this juncture as proposed by the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations, CACTUS.
5921 Allowing BDUs to coordinate the production and exhibition of community programming is the most efficient use of the limited funds and maximizes the amount of original programming that is produced.
5922 The CACTUS proposal would effectively eliminate most of the community channels and other outlets for local expression currently distributed by BDUs and would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the framework for community television.
5923 MS CROWE: As you've heard, the current policy framework for community television and especially the Commission's willingness to entertain alternatives to the traditional linear community channels, has enabled MTS Allstream to develop Winnipeg On Demand even though we are relatively new to the broadcasting industry and have a small subscriber base compared to BDUs like Shaw and Rogers.
5924 Based on our experience, it is our view that the policy for community television should continue to be flexible to allow it to evolve as the broadcasting industry overall evolves and as customer expectations change.
5925 One of the objectives of the existing policy framework is to ensure the creation and exhibition of more locally produced locally reflective community programming.
5926 We submit that this should remain the primary focus of community television, especially given the decreasing amount of locally produced programming provided by the conventional television broadcasters.
5927 Community programming such as that offered through Winnipeg On Demand may help to fill some of this gap as long as BDUs continue to have the flexibility and resources to respond to the interests and expectations of the community.
5928 The second objective of the existing policy framework is to foster a greater diversity of voices and alternative choices by facilitating the entrance of new participants at the local level.
5929 MTS Allstream encourages this by focusing on programming that is created by members of the community, programming that has shown to resonate with MTS TV's subscribers.
5930 In order to make more locally produced and locally reflective programming available to our customers, MTS Allstream agrees with those who have suggested that BDUs should be required to make their community programs available to other BDUs so that more of the community can benefit from access to the programming.
5931 However, we recommend that the sharing of community programming be limited to the community in which the programming was produced. This would ensure that community programming from the larger centres such as Toronto or Vancouver does not end up replacing the community programming of smaller communities.
5932 We also believe that the portion of a BDU's overall contribution to Canadian programming that may be directed to community television should be increased from the present level of two percent to three percent of its gross revenues without changing the overall BDU contribution requirement.
5933 Such a change would allow MTS Allstream to fund approximately 50 additional original programs for Winnipeg On Demand for 2011.
5934 Other forms of funding like advertising could also be beneficial to meeting the objectives of community programming. If the Commission were to allow BDU-operated community channels to air commercial advertising, all of the revenue should be directed back to the provision of community programming as is the current requirement for sponsorship revenues.
5935 Thank you.
5936 And those conclude our opening comments and we would be happy to respond to any questions from the Panel.
5937 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
5938 You're called Winnipeg On Demand yet you're Manitoba Telecom System. Why only Winnipeg, is it because you need fibre to the home in order to deliver your system?
5939 MR. McLAREN: No. When we started the programming Winnipeg was the only place where we were offering television service. So, as we expand into Brandon we're looking at changing -- or, not changing the name perhaps, but having a branded on-demand or a Manitoba On Demand service.
5940 THE CHAIRPERSON: You can do Flin Flon On Demand too?
5941 MR. McLAREN: No, we can't. We can only provide service where the technology for television exists and today that's in Winnipeg and Brandon and Portage la Prairie.
5942 THE CHAIRPERSON: Coming back to my question, Why, what's the technology, is that fibre, you need fibre to do this?
5943 MR. McLAREN: Oh, I see. Yes, we have to have fibre to a certain depth of the plant and then there's, you know, the equipment at the end of that fibre that facilitates television.
5944 THE CHAIRPERSON: I see, okay.
5945 Now, you undoubtedly listened to our proceedings and you heard Bell on Friday coming here and suggesting that in communities such as Winnipeg, you're competing with Shaw, I presume, and there are now two community channels, there's yours and there's Shaw's, and they suggested that really these should be put together and should be deeper and just to be a community channel jointly run and jointly funded by both the Telco provider or the BDU provider, whichever one it is, so that the community gets the maximum benefit for it rather than having competing community channels.
5946 Obviously they did not -- overnight, but that it will be paced in over a period and you would have to work out the governance issues.
5947 What's your position on that?
5948 MR. McLAREN: Well, we stated in our opening presentation that we would be in favour of that. You know, the community programming doesn't compete as such because the networks are not connected. So, if you're a Shaw customer, you see Shaw TV and if you're an MTS TV customer, you see Winnipeg On Demand, you know, that just comes with the service.
5949 If MTS Television carried Shaw Television and if Shaw TV -- or Shaw Cable carried the Winnipeg On Demand programs, then they would be available, all of the programming would be available throughout the city. And the programming on both services is quite different.
5950 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you actually compete right now? Let's say, for instance, I think the Native music festival is in Winnipeg. Do you cover it and Shaw covers it at the same time?
5951 MR. McLAREN: That's a possibility. I can't speak to that specific --
5952 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, okay, but any event.
5953 MR. McLAREN: Right. We tend to not be very event focused and if we do televise an event it will be -- it will have more of a shelf life. We'll be looking for more human interest stories, things that will resonate still six or eight or 10 months down the road.
5954 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Len, you have some questions.
5955 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
5956 Good morning.
5957 I want to go back to an understanding of VOD versus linear broadcasting. Why did you choose the VOD model and what are the economics around the two?
5958 MR. McLAREN: Video-on-demand made sense to us as we were looking to get into some form of community programming.
5959 I have an extensive background in community programming, some 22 years at a previous cable system and one of the challenges that we had was the short shelf life of programs, they would come and they would go and if you didn't happen to see them, you weren't going to get that opportunity.
5960 The other challenge that community programming has on a linear service, and there is value to having certain programming on a linear channel such as events or sports, but the biggest challenge I think they've got is community programming tends to be very, very niche and, so, there may be a show that you're interested in watching, it may be on Friday night at 7:30, every other time that you tune into the linear channel there's not much there for you to watch, something that doesn't capture your interest.
5961 And if you do that over and over, pretty soon you start to develop an impression that the community channel really has nothing to offer for you when, in fact, it may, just not at the times you're tuning in.
5962 And with video-on-demand we can still have that very niche programming, but you go directly to it through the menu and you find the material that you're looking for.
5963 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Go ahead.
5964 MS CROWE: The other point, as we were just entering the market video-on-demand -- and consequently had few subscribers and few revenues to direct to community programming, video-on-demand maximized the use of those funds. You know, we couldn't afford to launch a full-fledged linear channel, but within a relatively short amount of time we could deliver community programming to our subscribers using the new platform.
5965 COMMISSIONER KATZ: On a 24-hour day, how much of what someone would be watching is actually new and in for the first time?
5966 MR. McLAREN: I'm not sure we have that -- I don't have that information with me. I can certainly go through our video-on-demand buys and try and get a sense of that answer for you.
5967 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Could you for the May 17th response --
5968 MR. McLAREN: Sure, sure.
5969 COMMISSIONER KATZ: -- let us know how much of it is new stuff?
5970 You mentioned the notion of appointment television not as imperative for community television, with the exception of sports I guess and live events.
5971 What percent of what goes on your VOD is actually events and sports relative to community activities that are more of a show-and-tell I guess?
5972 MR. McLAREN: Almost none. You know, we don't televise live programming because it's a video-on-demand service.
5973 We have done some very specific live shows with our local hockey team, you know, a few regular season games and some finals as they were getting into the playoffs and, in fact, we -- in some instances we worked with Shaw in that coverage and the two companies worked together.
5974 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. You indicate in your opening remarks this morning that:
"...86 percent of our access programs..." (As read)
5975 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Which is certainly very commendable. I'm just wondering how do you go about doing an outreach program? What do you actually do to inform the community that you're out there?
5976 And I guess the question is, is it a push or is it a pull? Do you let them know you're there and your door's open and call us and, if you do, how do you do that; or, do you wait for your phone to ring?
5977 MR. McLAREN: We started by going out into the community and meeting with specific groups and telling them we were getting Winnipeg On Demand started and encouraging them to give us a call.
5978 We've relied largely on word of mouth since then.
5979 We intend to do more outreach, but I also want to manage this very carefully. I don't want to, you know, start to build something that's administratively heavy, we want to be able to handle the incoming demand and we'll grow it as we can.
5980 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I guess that begs the question, are you growing it proportionate to your two percent that goes in, so you're not looking to over invest beyond what your obligations and conditions of licence really require you to do?
5981 Is that the way you're building this?
5982 MR. McLAREN: That's generally true. We are spending some money beyond the two percent, but by and large that's the framework we've kept.
5983 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So basically what you're saying then -- I don't want to put words in your mouth -- that there's no over and above value that you're perceiving, you're doing this because you have to do it because it's an obligation imposed upon you, but there's no stickiness, there's no loyalty factor, there's no audience benefits that you're trying to realize through this community channel?
5984 MR. McLAREN: That's more true than not. You know, we don't -- I wouldn't say we're doing it because we feel we have to, we think it's a better way to spend our contribution to the CMF, to keep that two percent and guarantee that that money results in local programming.
5985 But if you're asking if the two percent were not there would we continue to do the shows, the answer is no.
5986 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And for the same reason, I guess, you're looking at recommending that the two percent move to three percent because you can make better use of the money yourself in promoting this than, from your perspective I guess, giving it to the CMF?
5987 MR. McLAREN: Yes. You know, we would say the CMF does good work, but I think, you know, we're fairly isolated in Winnipeg, we're six and a half hours away by car to the next capital city and it feels sometimes like the money goes to Toronto and Vancouver and when it does come back to Manitoba for production even, it doesn't necessarily feel like we're seeing Manitoba reflected with that money.
5988 So, keeping it local helps.
5989 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You've only just, I guess, started looking at Brandon, so you're focused on Winnipeg.
5990 But if I was to ask you whether there is more value in community broadcasting in communities where there is no over-the-air television station, what would you say?
5991 MR. McLAREN: That's been my experience, that small communities are more passionate about their local programming, their community programming than the larger centres.
5992 COMMISSIONER KATZ: There's been suggestions made that we open up the two percent all the way up to five percent in areas where there is no over-the-air station.
5993 Now, in your case, like I said, other than Brandon, Winnipeg does have an over-the-air station, so it wouldn't be to your -- necessarily to your benefit. But how would you respond to that?
5994 MR. McLAREN: Well, there's no local broadcaster in Brandon.
5995 COMMISSIONER KATZ: That's right.
5996 MR. McLAREN: So the five percent there we would absolutely support that.
5997 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But you wouldn't see a problem in leaving it at two percent in the major cities where there is an over-the-air station?
5998 MR. McLAREN: Well, our recommendation is that it go to three percent.
5999 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Yes. Notwithstanding the fact that there is an over-the-air station there as well?
6000 MR. McLAREN: Right.
6001 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
6002 MR. McLAREN: And, you know, when we talk about over-the-air, we're talking about technology, you know, video-on-demand versus over-the-air.
6003 What we're talking about is the programming and local broadcasters produce news, that's their local programming and it serves a great service.
6004 Personally, I'm not sure that Winnipeg needs three separate newscasts from three local broadcasters, but we're not seeing anything in Winnipeg or Manitoba reflected back on those local broadcasters outside the news.
6005 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You don't think there's value in having three independent views on news and information coming from the editorialized journalists to the general public?
6006 MR. McLAREN: At the expense of no other local programming, I would suggest we could probably live with two newscasts and some local programming on the other channel.
6007 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. In your opening remarks this morning you talk about -- I think you talk about copyright to some extent.
6008 On page 2 at the top you say:
"When the production is over..." (As read)
6009 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And you're referring to community programming:
"...in most cases, our community producers own the rights to the shows." (As read)
6010 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Do they -- do you sign, do they sign a document that gives them the rights to the programs that they produced that go onto your system, your VOD system?
6011 MR. McLAREN: Yes. I'm sure our lawyers would like to see it far more complex than it is, but it's basically a one and a half page letter that gives a very basic outline to what our expectations are for the show and at the end of it it's theirs, you know, they can take it away and pretty much do whatever they want with it.
6012 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, does the reverse hold as well? Do you go to producers that actually provide community access programming to, say, Shaw and ask if you can have access to it as well, given the producer owns it and not Shaw?
6013 MR. McLAREN: I don't know that that's the case at Shaw.
6014 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So you're being required to sign a document by the producers giving them the rights to it, but that doesn't necessarily hold true on the other side?
6015 I just want to understand how these things are done.
6016 MR. McLAREN: Sure. You know, when the show is finished we -- other than an exhibition on video-on-demand, we really have no interest in placing any other restrictions around it.
6017 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But if you could. I think you say in here with regard to sharing community programming, you'd welcome the opportunity to share on -- I think the way I read it is -- to share, for example, in Shaw's community programming to the extent that it's within the local community and to the extent that, I guess, it's owned by the local producer.
6018 MR. McLAREN: Right.
6019 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Because Shaw wouldn't necessarily give it to you on their own.
6020 MR. McLAREN: And I'm not sure I'm understanding the question. So, let me put it back to you.
6021 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Sure.
6022 MR. McLAREN: Somebody comes to us, they work with Winnipeg On Demand and produce a show. If the question is, would we be okay if they took that show and had it televised on Shaw? The answer is, yes, we would accept that.
6023 Would the community producer own the program that they had produced at Shaw? I don't know if it works that way over there, I don't --
6024 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So you haven't approached a producer who's produced for Shaw's community channel and asked if you can put it on your VOD system?
6025 MR. McLAREN: No.
6026 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
6027 MR. McLAREN: I don't know any community producers at Shaw.
6028 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Last question.
6029 You talk about bureaucracy of the CACTUS model on page 2 as well and you say that:
"Resorting to a CACTUS proposal would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the framework for community television." (As read)
6030 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Can you explain to what degree you see additional bureaucracy? I think what they're advocating is simply having the funds go their way, they would then administer it and make sure that it gets to the producers and then hand you a tape, I would imagine, and say, here it is, put it on your VOD system.
6031 MS CROWE: Yes, and that sounds like quite a bit of bureaucracy for them to collect in all the revenues and to go through applications for the funding adds a whole new system that isn't there right now.
6032 We know from the history of the CTF and now the CMF, it can get quite complicated when you have a central warehouse that's then apportioning funding throughout the country, and it does take a fair amount of bureaucracy.
6033 The way we've designed our Winnipeg On Demand is to try and minimize the administrative aspects of providing programming. We're really trying to get as much of the funding right into production as possible.
6034 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Those are my questions, Mr. Chairman.
6035 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please, Michel.
6036 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6037 I have only a few questions. But I was asking myself how will Winnipegians know that a new program or a new episode has been added to Winnipeg On Demand?
6038 MR. McLAREN: We use the local avails. So, Winnipeg On Demand has 30-second promos that we run on the U.S. local avails as an example.
6039 We have a barker channel and it has a portion of that. So, somebody who's interested in watching a video-on-demand program often will tune into the barker channel and they will see promos for Winnipeg On Demand there.
6040 There's a couple of examples.
6041 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: But you don't support it with e-mails to -- you don't have a data bank of community interested people so you could write to them saying, a new episode has been added of this or that program, or...
6042 MR. McLAREN: Maybe not to that degree. We do have a monthly e-mail newsletter that goes out to our subscribers and Winnipeg On Demand is often included in that, but it's an opt-in service. So, it goes to the people who have asked for the newsletter.
6043 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Now, you're starting to do Brandon On Demand. Will the Brandon subscribers have access to the Winnipeg programming?
6044 MR. McLAREN: Yes, they will and vice versa.
6045 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And vice versa?
6046 MR. McLAREN: Right. See, and that's an advantage also to the video-on-demand application because it's menu driven, so we can provide Winnipeg On Demand, that menu out to Brandon and we can provide Manitoba On Demand.
6047 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Sure. It's there on the server and whoever wants to access to it and eventually Portage la Prairie will also have access to Brandon programming, even if they're far from being related --
6048 MR. McLAREN: Right.
6049 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: -- in terms of driving time. Now, regarding access, because you said that a good portion of the programming that you're doing is of access time; how do you select the programmers that do access programming?
6050 MR. McLAREN: They've been coming to us with ideas. You know, we don't have statistics on how many applications we receive that we actually go ahead and produce, but we estimate it's probably about 85 percent, maybe a little more.
6051 So, if somebody comes to us with an idea for a show, we'll talk to them about the feasibility of getting it done and generally go ahead and do it.
6052 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And what type of financing do you provide them?
6053 MR. McLAREN: It depends on the show. I mean, you know, we've got some of the traditional programming with the black curtain and the rubber plant type interview shows.
6054 MR. McLAREN: I think we've all seen them.
6055 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: I mean, we're not in your video.
6056 MR. McLAREN: You know, we have other programs where there are some re-enactments, some actors participating in doing re-enactments where they need some sets and so on.
6057 So, how much money we put towards an individual show depends on what the producer is trying to do.
6058 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And so you're supporting them financially, because I'm sure that they are...
6059 The program that you showed us on your DVD, did it contain some access programming, or is it only programs that were produced by MTS?
6060 MR. McLAREN: Oh, no, the vast majority of that was access programming for sure.
6061 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: So, some of them, obviously even if we only had small snippets, seem to have fairly high quality and high difficulties of -- so, they do generally speaking require more financing than others to produce.
6062 And my question is related to the whole issue of the copyright because you are not -- you're paying for it, at least in part, but you're not requiring any rights. So, you're not CTV, you're not even CBC.
6063 MR. McLAREN: Correct. Now, it's not that we're not asking for any rights, you know, we ask for rights. We won't do the show unless we get the rights for our video-on-demand service.
6064 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: I hope so.
6065 MR. McLAREN; Right.
6066 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: At least to have it on your system, but you're giving them back to the producer so that he could, as the example that Mr. Katz used, he could go then after that at Shaw and say, here's a product that I want you to run on the community channel.
6067 MR. McLAREN: Sure. That's certainly possible, yes.
6068 We also ask for Internet rights as well. We haven't shown much on the Internet yet, but we reserve the right to show it on the Internet.
6069 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you.
6070 THE CHAIRPERSON: Rita?
6071 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Yes, thank you.
6072 Good morning. Just a couple of follow-up questions on the programming.
6073 I note in your written submission it says that:
"In 2009 there were 74 original programs of which 61 were produced by members of the community." (As read)
6074 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: So, that 61 programs obviously makes up your access programming component?
6075 MR. McLAREN: We had some difficulty with our numbers, sorry, so we've got some revised numbers we can provide for you.
6076 But it's more than that.
6077 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay. And you can do that on the May 17th submission.
6078 MR. McLAREN: Sure, we'll do that for you, yeah, we don't need that before then, yes.
6079 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And will you also provide us that information in terms of hours as well --
6080 MR. McLAREN: Absolutely.
6081 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: -- as number of programs?
6082 MR. McLAREN: Yes, we have the number of hours and programs, yes.
6083 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay. And so my follow-up question to that was, by how much would you see that increasing if we were to accept your suggestion that your contribution should go from two to three percent?
6084 MR. McLAREN: Okay. Well, statistically it would go up at least 50 percent.
6085 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: I'll hold you to that.
6086 MR. McLAREN: You're more than welcome to. But, you know, when you talk about community programming in this venue, you know, immediately we start thinking about a vehicle that is 35 to 40 years old.
6087 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Yes.
6088 MR. McLAREN: We haven't had our third birthday yet, you know, we're still way back where the cable companies were in the mid-70s and I see a lot of opportunities to grow the number of shows that we're producing.
6089 That's the target for this year, is to really create more efficiencies, get more programming. And, so, I don't have a number to give you yet, but it would be substantially more than what we're doing now.
6090 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And just one follow-up to your conversation with Vice-Chairman Katz with regards to the rights to the shows that are retained by the producers.
6091 Is there an after market for these shows? I mean, have some of these shows ended up with over-the-air broadcasters, for example, in Winnipeg?
6092 MR. McLAREN: Not that I'm aware of, but I think some of them could. You know, the challenge that our programming has versus the local broadcasters is that it really is intensely local.
6093 We have a show called "Reconstructing Winnipeg", and it's a show about buildings that don't exist any more.
6094 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: M'hmm.
6095 MR. McLAREN: Today they might be heritage buildings, but they were demolished. And, so, the producer has used animation to re-create these things. You can stand on the street corner, the streetcar rolls by, you see these buildings in the background, and they talk about the significance of these things.
6096 That's not going to play in Toronto, it's not going to play in Vancouver. And the local broadcasters, I think, are fairly strapped in terms of their schedules, I don't think they've really got an opportunity to show programs that are so focused on Winnipeg.
6097 But we've had some producers take their shows and go to awards, you know, they've entered them in different awards categories and, you know, when they hold the rights they can do that.
6098 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay. Well, thank you very much. Those are all my questions.
6099 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you very much for your submission.
6100 We'll take a five-minute break.
--- Upon recessing at 1001
--- Upon resuming at 1011
6101 LE PRÉSIDENT: Madame la secrétaire, commençons.
6102 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentations of Crossroads Television System and Stornoway Communications. We will hear each presentation which will then be followed by questions.
6103 We will begin with the presentation of Crossroads Television System. Please introduce yourself and you have ten minutes for your presentation.
6104 MR. STEWART: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, members of staff, good morning.
6105 My name is Glenn Stewart, Director, Sales and Marketing at CTS and with me today is Matt Hillier, our Chief Financial Officer. Thank you for allowing CTS the opportunity to participate at this hearing.
6106 As an independent or non-group broadcaster CTS is particularly concerned about the future viability of conventional television as a stand-alone model when competing with BDU owned broadcasters.
6107 As a result of these proceedings, we must now be concerned about the potential competition from BDU owned community channels as well, should any contemplated or proposed changes result in those channels resembling conventional stations in terms of program or commercial content.
6108 Community television has been funded quite appropriately through cable fees and that should not change, at least in major markets that are served by conventional over-the-air stations.
6109 Similarly, community television chief mandate rather has been to provide local community access to the airwaves. That too should not change. Community television should not include acquired or re-purposed programming that would otherwise be available on regular conventional or special TV networks.
6110 Where local news is not readily or is no longer available on local conventional channels, such as in Brandon, it may be beneficial for those communities and the Canadian Broadcast system as a whole to permit the production of a semi-professional or professionally produced local news package.
6111 However, the primary purpose for community television must be maintained and even news operations should be driven by volunteer participation from community members.
6112 Let us be clear, BDU owned community channels should not compete in any way with conventional or specially networks in terms of advertising as a revenue stream. Similar to the rationale used by the Commission in its recent decision on VOD, community channels should not be used by BDUs as a platform to cite an advertising revenue from broadcasters.
6113 Small independent conventional stations like CTS have a tough enough time being included in agency buying strategies without BDUs being able to package in community channels alongside their other offerings.
6114 And so all existing and any new programming initiatives that community channels may be allowed to undertake in a revised framework should continue to be funded exclusively through cable fees.
6115 Commissioner Morin has advanced an interesting alternative that would allow for partial or perhaps additional funding via a membership revenue model.
6116 This idea may have merit, especially in small communities under 20,000 subscribers or even in markets that are no longer served by local conventional over-the-air stations.
6117 It is our view that allowing paid advertising on community access channels will not only hurt conventional OTA stations, but will hurt the many not-for-profit groups and associations who have been getting free promotional support from their local community channels.
6118 Similar concerns have already been mentioned at these proceedings by groups like the Shriners.
6120 MR. HILLIER: In some of the discussions surrounding enhancing revenue streams, the suggestion has been made that perhaps LPIF could be capt into by community channels. This concept is particularly troublesome to CTS. Given that as a small and conventional broadcaster, we are unable to access LPIF for a Hamilton based OTA station.
6121 Though we are a religious service, surely the intent of LPIF was to assist small broadcasters ahead of cable community channels.
6122 At any rate, if BDU owned community TV channels require more funding, accessing additional cable fees is a much simpler and straightforward solution than fondling money in and out of LPIF.
6123 Not only should funding of community channels be kept from resembling conventional stations, the content of these channels should keep and enhance its unique role in the broadcast system. We agree with CACTUS a diversity of voices is important.
6124 We believe that the existing operators of community channels can do more to provide greater access to local community members and should be given the chance to approve upon their service to their communities.
6125 The community channel has not become an outdated model in the face of the Internet. It is precisely because of such things as the Internet, VOD and various media that community channels are still needed as a way for local communities to remain connected and to be reflected.
6126 Without doubt, communities have countless neighbourhoods, sub-cultures and elements of community vibrancy to explore through the hyper local lands offered by community television.
6127 With due respect to the CACTUS model, now it's an important time to introduce a new class of licence that would require, among other things, mandatory carriage by BDUs.
6128 However, we agree that BDUs should have a model for their community channels that mirrors as closely as possible the diverse tapestry of people and places they serve.
6129 This can be done in a natural way without complex regulator involvement simply by establishing a high bar for the percentage of programming produced by local volunteers. Hyper local would quickly come to the surface and communities would clearly see their interests reflected daily.
6130 We urge the Commission to keep community channels distinct in their programming role and revenue model.
6131 Thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts with you today and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
6132 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
6133 We will now hear the presentation of Stornoway Communications. Please introduce yourself and you have ten minutes.
6134 MS FUSCA: Hello! I'm Martha Fusca, presidency of Stornoway Communications.
6135 Mr. Chairman, Commissioner and Commission staff, it is a pleasure to appear before you today and to state our company's position on a key element of our broadcasting system.
6136 I've done a little self-editing because I think I was running a little long, so, please bear with me.
6137 It seems clear from the evidence presented from community participants from all over Canada the Canadian citizens who feel strongly about community channels are unhappy with the current structure.
6138 From the submissions the Commission has received and from the oral presentations to date, with some exceptions interveners who are asking you to develop a structure that among other things provides them with access to their public airwaves.
6139 Further, we suspect that those who are happy with the current structure are pleased because, in some cases, they have been granted on-air time. What is clearly required is real access for those who currently have little or no access to their community channels.
6140 There are two options open to achieving accessibility. First and our preferred choice is the CACTUS proposal because we believe strongly in community ownership and control of community channels.
6141 There are three key issues that need to be addressed if as Canadians we wish to support a vibrant and successful community channel sector. First, we need local control of the content for Canadian citizens to work cooperatively together in order to produce community television that is meaningful to them.
6142 Secondly, there is the need for a dedicated channel and distribution of that channel for the various communities who have indicated an interest in participating in this sector and, thirdly, we need to find citizen owned and operated community channels.
6143 As part of the three pillars of the Broadcasting system as identified by Parliament, this sector has a right to real meaningful and practical recognition as a distinct sector and not merely as an obligation of or an apanage of the private sector, which it seems to have been allowed for various reasons to develop into over the years.
6144 It should be considered a basic public service or resource like the CBC or a local library.
6145 One of the concerns I have with the community sector is that we risk ignoring or discounting the critical role played by volunteers in this particular sector of the Broadcasting system. The time, the effort and perhaps most important of all, the creativity of those who work without pay in the community sector because they want to learn, to contribute or just to engage with their neighbours have real value.
6146 Further, the experience and expertise they developed as volunteers in many cases end up being used for employment opportunities. This type of training is invaluable to potential future employers who enjoy the benefit of hiring skill television professionals, be they producers, directors, crews or the like.
6147 The experience acquired from community channel involvement may also benefit young Canadians or Canadians in employment transition with skills that they may use in other industry sectors or employment, or rather other employment opportunities.
6148 It offers seniors or retired Canadians an opportunity to become involved in community events that enrich both their lives and the lives of the community as a whole.
6149 And so, therefore, the issue of access to community channels is critical, not only as an expression and manifestation of a democratic society, but an action that delivers economic and social benefits as well.
6150 The volunteer model of production is many times more cost efficient at producing local programming and could fill a key gap that the public and private sectors are not and indeed cannot fill outside major markets.
6151 It also offers an important outlet as a niche caster in major markets and can play a vital role in smaller rural communities where there is no local reflection.
6152 Despite the efficiency the community, operated community channels can offer, we know that they will require minimum levels of long term stable funding. Stable funding is required to ensure adequate access to training, equipment and management to offer coherent program schedules and the range in volume of diversity of voices and genres the community operated channels are capable of delivering.
6153 We, therefore, support the use of the two per cent that is currently being used by cable operated community channels to be used by community, operated community channels.
6154 What we are essentially suggesting here is that there is a transfer of control from cable to the community over community channels.
6155 Clearly, therefore, in answer to the question that has been raised as to whether community channels should carry advertising, our answer is "no". Let's keep community television focused on communities, not advertisers and ratings.
6156 We have heard from Canadians who themselves are consumers at this hearing and that they are not getting the access mandated which they pay for and for which they should be able to expect.
6157 They have been asked whether more stringent monitoring or higher access levels under the current cable administrated model would work for them. From our perspective, we would respectfully suggest that this is going backwards.
6158 This is what should have happened and has not, given that fewer than one third of the original community televisions channels that Canadians once enjoyed and continue to pay for and no longer exists, it is clear that monitoring is not going to make those studio doors open again.
6159 There is no longer any incentive for cable operators to simply allow the public access to community channel when over time these channels have developed into commercial channels, competing with other public and private local and, indeed, national channels, an important issue which should also be addressed and indeed can be addressed by giving to communities what is rightfully theirs, by developing as CACTUS has suggested a 21st Century model for community engagement in communications as opposed to furthering the concentration of media into fewer and fewer hands.
6160 I would encourage the Commission to examine in detail the business plan put forth by CACTUS last week that could revitalise this sector.
6161 We endorse the CACTUS proposal whereby communities such as the seven already licensed need over-the-air frequencies to ensure community service and the flexibility to ensure that in the future, communities themselves can make decisions about the distribution of community program via such things as mobile TV.
6162 From what we understand, the model that CACTUS presented to the Commission includes modest realistic budgets to enable some 250 local community operated channels to be launched. We think this is a plan worth serious consideration.
6163 We believe that their plan can work hand in hand with other private and public local programmers.
6164 Their plan also responds to Parliament's expectation that Canadians should have access to their Broadcasting system as well as playing an important role in Canada's digital strategy by encouraging the adoption of digital technologies at the grassroots levels in communities across Canada.
6165 What is most refreshing about CACTUS is that the organization itself is made up of volunteers, dedicated and knowledgeable individuals with the broad spectrum of experience.
6166 As a society, we are fortunate to have them work for our national benefit along with the thousands of other interested concerned and talented Canadians from whom we can all learn.
6167 As Canadians and consumers, CACTUS have put forth a reasonable cost effective community solution to many of the issues that have been under deliberation by the Commission since the diversity of voices hearing in 2007.
6168 We have two primary recommendations as you begin to make your determinations about the future of the community sector.
6169 The first has to do with how we define the community sector ownership through voting shares and control through equity or key characteristics of the other two elements in our broadcasting system, private interest control, private broadcasters while our public institutions and public interest control are public broadcasters.
6170 For the moment, the easiest way for community groups to produce television programs in many large centres is through their cable company which owns a distribution system that includes channels for communities.
6171 In the short term, giving community groups more control through annual reports, through planning sessions and through consultative committees, for example, would also improve accountability and promote access. Increasing community involvement and how community channels operate would also align work closely with the idea that each element of our Broadcasting system control itself.
6172 Over the next several years, however, we would urge the Commission to consider adopting the CACTUS proposal or some version thereof, and this hearing is the place from which to start that process.
6173 Our second recommendation extends the idea of control to programming content. Some cable companies do a very good job of pulling community content from communities themselves and they should be applauded.
6174 Yet, many Canadians might be surprised as I was to learn that programs created and produced by community themselves often make up less than a third of the hours aired on community channels or to learn that some community TV channels simulcast radio stations.
6175 Canadians outside this room might also be surprised to learn that cable companies may be using part of the two per cent subscribers pay for communities to express themselves to producers owned programs to run the community channel.
6176 While Stornoway would advocate that all programming should be produced by the community itself at a minimum, we recommend that programs made by the communities should predominate on community television channels, both in terms of original and repeat content.
6177 So, whereas today we gather that there is roughly a 70-30 split, whereby 70 per cent of the content is produced by the cable company staff, and less than 30 per cent is being produced by the community, we would recommend reversing these two figures.
6178 To conclude, while we have touched on several issues before you today, Stornoway's main position is this: Our colleagues in the community sector should not be transformed into competitors against whom we have to compete for advertising dollars and channel space.
6179 Parliament's Broadcasting Legislation sets out a unique role and place for communities and community broadcasting and the fact that thousands of Canadians wrote to you in this proceeding shows their strong interest in that special place.
6180 Until Parliament changes its mind, it seems to me that our community broadcasting for and by the people is entitled to remain on the air as any other public or private broadcaster.
6181 Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and Commission staff, I have appreciated the time you have given me to show Stornoway's views with you. With so many conflicting views, your role is all the more important.
6182 I welcome any questions you may have.
6183 THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for your presentations.
6184 CDS, you say on page 3: "However, we agree that BDUs should have a model for their community channels and mirrors as closely as possible the diverse tapestry of people and places they serve. This can be done in a natural way by simply establishing a high bar for percentage of programming produced by local volunteers."
6185 You heard Mr. Stewart here stating reverse the current numbers from 37 to either 70 or 30 and so 70 per cent has to be produced by the local communities and 30 per cent by the BDUs. Is that what you have in mind?
6186 MR. HILLIER: Actually, Mr. Chairman, it's scary, she probably grabbed that out of my brain because I had -- I was chewing on that for a while and going, well it has to be more than just 50 per cent plus one kind of our change because, then, you won't really notice it on air that much.
6187 The only thing I would add to that is probably that requirement should be in prime time as well as the rest of this schedule, just so, you know, peak viewing times for community channels, it would have that same kind of majority threshold.
6188 THE PRESIDENT: And Ms Fusca, you've presented us with a very thoughtful presentation and I noticed you quickly could grasp and your certainly grabbed the issues that we have to grapple with.
6189 And you point out in point 24 that some cable companies do a very good job of putting community content from communities themselves and they should be applauded.
6190 More than applauding, don't you think this is rather than us always trying to getting in there doing some -- isn't there something from a Model Code, shouldn't we take the -- or shouldn't the industry, the BDUs ,sort of set up a model code of how to do, how do interact with the community, how to bring them -- we can set a percentage and would takes up to 70-30.
6191 But the rest of it, the daily interaction, we have heard lots of people saying oh! this is wonderful, lots of people saying Shaw is awful. So, it's everything in between.
6192 So, wouldn't it be time to in effect for the industry to come up with a code of how this should be done, we would then section it and make it -- and the people, rather than us as the regulatory prescribing it?
6193 MS FUSCA: Well, actually, that would be my preferred solution. I was listening to some of the hearing from home and I gather from Cathy Edwards' response to one of the questions that she had asked at some point, or CACTUS had asked at some point, that there would be a meeting of the various stakeholders to try to come up with, you know, some solution that I would assume would work well for everybody and, you know, some concessions might have to be made by each of the parties. So, yes, I have, you know, a little difficulty in that notion at all.
6194 But clearly, clearly, Mr. Chair, you know there needs to be more access for individual Canadians to be able to express themselves and it's clearly not happening. So, if --
6195 THE PRESIDENT: Or selectively.
6196 MS FUSCA: Well, in general, I would suggest, you know. I couldn't read everything, but in general I would suggest that the majority of the submissions claim that they don't have access.
6197 So, if the cable, you know, satellite companies could get together with, you know, CACTUS, because they are the representatives and I think they have been doing a pretty good job, from the perspective of the individuals submitting submissions to this hearing, I think that would be a really terrific solution.
6198 THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Thank you. Mark, do you have some questions?
6199 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning and thank you all for your presentations. I am going to pick up on some of the questions that the Chairman has already asked.
6200 Ms Fusca, you speak of the risk of ignoring or discounting the critical role of volunteers in the sector and you spoke a little bit about access.
6201 Do you have much in the way of experience, data or analysis or research of any kind that would suggest that you know this to be a fact, that the people are having trouble accessing the system? And we have heard accounts from both sides, suggesting that that may or may not be the case.
6202 MS FUSCA: I'm afraid I don't have any, you know, sort of empirical data or a hugh, you know, evidence, other than as a concerned Canadian, I read, as I have said, as many of the initial submissions. I have read and listened to as much as I could about from the hearing and I think, you know, like any sensitive Canadian, you are going to think, Okay, well gee!
6203 There are obviously an awful lot of people that are very concerned about the fact that they can't get access to their, you know, local community channel.
6204 The other thing is just that -- you know, sometimes when you are sitting there and listening, you think: Gee! I wished I was on the panel because I have questions. I would have asked, for example, some of the participants that were indeed happy with the current service, well, really what makes them happy.
6205 I mean, do they have a consistent -- do they have consistent work? Are they getting consistent work? Are they getting consistent airtime? And that in it of itself gives you some indication of why the others aren't happy. They other aren't happy because they are not.
6206 And there may be, in fact, reasons why some people are not happy. I mean, we heard from MTS earlier that as the folks that are primarily responsible, that have to ensure that there isn't any material that gets to wear that's, you know, inappropriate, so you might have some unhappiness for that.
6207 But I think just in general I've heard the same evidence and rather the same evidence that you have. I mean, I think it's abundantly clear, quite frankly, that, you know, Canadians want greater access and as a Canadian I say, give it to them.
6208 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So, you are suggesting more communication between the distributor and viewers saying, you know, we're open, come on down if you have show ideas, that kind of thing?
6209 MS FUSCA: Yes, absolutely, but what I do know and, you know, it's not really up to me to be telling you this, but what I do know from some folks out in the community, is that they have tried to get access and know that they can't get access.
6210 So, I think that what the Chair -- I don't know if he was recommending it, but the question that the Chair asked vis-à-vis, you know, allow, say, CACTUS's representative have and maybe you know key Canadians from across the National, you know, to participate in some kind of a round table discussion where they sit down with their local, you know, BDUs and work out some system whereby they get greater access, I think is a really good thing.
6211 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I think, yes.
6212 MS FUSCA: Sorry.
6213 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: No. That's okay. I believe I've heard you say that somehow CACTUS should be working with the BDUs, that they can somehow work something out and as I understand it, they seem to be across purposes in terms of the direction that they each want to go, so I am not sure how that could happen. Any thoughts about that?
6214 MS FUSCA: Well, I think if I was the Chair, I would say if you guys don't make it happen, I'll make it happen for you and I don't think either side is -- I don't think it's in either side's advantage to, you know, to have somebody else, you know, determine their business, if you will.
6215 And I would like to think that, you know, the BDUs would, in fact, be very open to sitting down and trying to find a solution to what is clearly a problem.
6216 On the other hand, you know, I know that I come here and complain about the BDUs a great deal. In their position I have to tell you I would be doing the same thing.
6217 You have a property, you want to be proud of it, you want to put the best thing on it and, you know, without some parameters restrictions, if you will, they're going to continue and develop these. I think if you watch any number of these community channels, they are, in fact, you know, very competitive with, you know, local and indeed as I would say in regional and national channels.
6218 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I want to pick up on that, Ms Fusca, as I asked Mr. Stewart and Mr. Hillier a question.
6219 In both your oral and written presentations you express your concern that there is a potential competition from BDU owned community channels, that their content is resembling content on specialty channels.
6220 Could you elaborate a little bit more on this, how much research and analysis have you done on this?
6221 MR. STEWART: Thank you. One of the examples I wanted to cite was I live north of Toronto in beautiful Thunder Bay which is near Collingwood and every morning I drive by two giant Rogers billboards coming out in and out of stainer that promotes local news at 06h00 and 10h00 with a former news anchor from CFTO who came to HL Barrie who now is at Rogers.
6222 You know, HL Barrie still does local news and that is very much the local news market for that golden horseshoe area, that's the local station and here we have the cable company competing effectively with HL News. And that's the fear. That's where not enough community access and support, you know, comes to bear.
6223 That billboard didn't say, you know, come help us produce local news for your community. It was a very professional presentation and it's a direct competition.
6224 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Are they competing with you? Do you see much overlap as far as their content and --
6225 MR. STEWART: No, there is not direct competition with us in terms of content.
6226 Our fear is that if the advertising pool, limited as it is for small broadcasters like ourselves is opened up to community channels as well. It's just more coming off and it's going to make the rest of struggle.
6227 So, anything that is -- any group that is partially funded through subscription fees, cable fees or government, direct government pay-out can't and shouldn't be in direct competition to the same level as other private broadcasters.
6228 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: But you argue that the type of programming that you're seeing on those billboards may in fact be beneficial in communities where there are no conventional broadcasters producing local news?
6229 MR. STEWART: Absolutely, but that becomes a subjective exercise to determine what markets truly don't have local news content and I would argue that Barrie certainly covers a vast area.
6230 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I am wondering how unwheeled you would be -- excuse me -- how, because you're talking about shock block applications of certain rules whereby access levels might be mandated in this community because there is a conventional broadcaster, but not in that one. Is that what you are referring to?
6231 MR. STEWART: That is your challenge in making your determinations from these proceedings.
6232 The thing we're here to ask you to do is to, please, please, do not allow advertising as a revenue stream in in the model. It just -- it will hurt too many other broadcasters.
6233 MR. HILLIER: The one thing I would add, you asked about competition on the programming side and you're right, there is no direct competition revenue-wise from a newscast versus the type of programming, original programming we produced.
6234 But we are competing in the sense of trying to stay relevant and trying to have the resources to be able to produce programming that's relevant for the communities that we serve and so, we don't happen to those types of funding pools that the community channels do by an allocation of resources for cable fees and so, it's a struggle for relevance continuing to improve the programming that we produce. We compete on that level.
6235 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Among the proposals that we have seen most recently from MTS is that they be allowed to elevate their contribution from two to three per cent. Do you have any thoughts about that, Ms Fusca?
6236 MS FUSCA: Well, I would oppose that particularly since it's they have suggested it come from the other fund. If they were suggesting that it goes up to three per cent from their gross revenues, that would be okay with me, but not having it transferred from one fund to the other.
6237 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Mr. Hillier and Mr. Stewart?
6238 MR. STEWART: I would have to say that from our standpoint, it would be preferable to increase the percentage of cable fees, as opposed to taping it to LPIF, definitely.
6239 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So, you don't believe that community channels should have access to LPIF, even the ones in communities where there is no conventional broadcaster operating a local news show or any kind of stations. Is that correct?
6240 MR. STEWART: I would prefer it would come through elevated cable fees in those communities.
6241 We have to be very transparent here. It's difficult for us as probably the only broadcaster that can't access any of the funds out there, for a host of reasons.
6242 It's really heard for us to sit here and watch other groups be able to suddenly tap into those sources and we still get shut up and so, that's our transparency and we're upfront about it. But basically increase the fees on cable companies if cable companies are going to continue to do the job, that will allow them to do it better.
6243 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: But, ultimately, you're talking about higher cost to the consumer?
6244 MR. STEWART: Yes, but if this is what the consumer truly wants in their communities, then so be it.
6245 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Those are my questions. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6246 THE PRESIDENT: Len?
6247 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning. I've got just one question.
6248 The Chairman asked earlier whether a self-regulatory regime or co-regulatory regime might be a more appropriate method to address some of these issues.
6249 I welcome your comments and other suggestions and that is putting some teeth into the CRTC Regulations by having the ability to impose administrative monetary penalties on transgressors after due consideration and process. That way, we're going to paint everybody with the same paint brush basically.
6250 We have heard some people perhaps are a bit more creative on how they apply the regulations. I would welcome your comments on that?
6251 MS FUSCA: I think that that's an outstanding suggestion and I, for one, would vote wholeheartedly for it.
6252 MR. STEWART: That would be totally appropriate for the Commission to do, in our view.
6253 MR. HILLIER: And we have noticed over the years a growing amount of frustration in getting impasses and to have more tools and your tool obviously makes a lot of sense.
6254 THE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope you get elected to Parliament then and fight a lot to that account. Thank you very much for your presentations. That's all we have for you.
6256 MS FUSCA: Mr. Chair, could I just say one final word in departing. I wanted to thank you personally and all of those from the CRTC who attended the CWC Gala. It was really wonderful to see you there and I really appreciate your support.
6257 THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I overlooked my colleague, Michel Morin. I'm sorry, Michel.
6258 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks, Mr. Chair. My comments are for CTS. Thanks for your comments about the model I pushed forward as an alternative to the CACTUS proposal.
6259 I just want to make sure that you have seen on the CRTC Web site my written questions and I hope that you will answer them.
6260 MR. STEWART: I have not, but we will go to it and we will answer something for the 17th, yes.
6261 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thank you very much.
6262 MR. STEWART: Thank you.
6263 THE PRESIDENT: Madam la secrétaire, it's over to you.
6264 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. I would now invite Rogers Communications Inc. to come to the presentation table.
6265 THE PRESIDENT: Let's take a five-minute break here.
--- Upon recessing at 1045
--- Upon resuming at 1052
6266 LE PRÉSIDENT : O.K., Madame la Secrétaire, commençons.
6267 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of Rogers Communications Inc.
6268 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you have 10 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
6269 MS DINSMORE: Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, good morning. I am Pam Dinsmore, Vice-President, Regulatory for Rogers. Let me introduce our panel to you.
6270 The front row is well known to you: Colette Watson on my right and David Watt beside her; and to my left are Ken Engelhart and Phil Lind.
6271 Behind me, seated at the table, starting from your left, are: Scott Jackson, Regional Station Manager, Rogers TV New Brunswick; Julie Henson, Director, Programming and Creative Services, Rogers TV; Peter Kovacs, Director, Regulatory; Pierre Fortin, Director, Planning and Engineering, Rogers TV; and George MacDonald, Director, Management Reporting and Analysis.
6272 Before we begin our presentation, we would like to present a video overview of Rogers TV and the important role it plays in the communities we serve.
--- Video presentation
6273 MR. LIND: Mr. Chairman, 41 years ago my friend and colleague Ted Rogers came to the conclusion that something was missing from television broadcasting in Canada. That something was community reflection, programming coming from and reaching out to the grassroots.
6274 Those of you who knew Ted know precisely what he did next. He said: "Phil, make it happen." And that is exactly what we have done over the last 40 years.
6275 Together, we invented community TV, first in Toronto and later across every Rogers service area, including many in the States too. We did it there.
6276 Today, we have 34 stations serving millions of Canadians, keeping them in touch with their communities in hundreds of cities, towns and villages in Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
6277 The person who has been charged with keeping Ted's vision alive for the last 20 years is Colette Watson and before that it was Kip Moorcroft. Colette is a fabulous programmer. I would like her to tell you the story of Rogers TV in the community.
6279 MME WATSON : Monsieur le Président, TV Rogers, c'est l'accès par les membres de la collectivité, les 29 000 Canadiens qui ont réalisé et participé aux émissions de TV Rogers l'année dernière.
6280 The Rogers TV story is totally about community outreach, training, volunteers, co-op initiatives and thousands of hours of programming every year. That is our story.
6281 Today, our story is still about church services on Sundays, call-in programs and city councils. And it's still about opening our doors to those with ideas and passion for making television.
6282 Our story is about being on location at schools, charitable fundraisers, amateur sporting events, cultural celebrations and local political meetings. It is all on our schedule, as shown on the attached program grid for Ottawa. It is a great story and we're proud to tell it.
6283 À mesure que les radiodiffuseurs commerciaux accordent de moins en moins d'importance à la programmation locale, il ne reste que nous pour combler ce vide. À l'heure actuelle, 18 de nos 34 stations communautaires constituent l'unique source d'actualités locales télévisées dans leurs zones de desserte. Nous nous attendons à une croissance, et non à une diminution, de ce chiffre au cours des années à venir.
6284 As Ted said in the video, Rogers community television is about people, people who come to Rogers TV as volunteers and find a new world of opportunity. It is about people like Ginette Gratton who started as a volunteer in 1983 and is still doing a show today. People like Arthur Levitan who has been volunteering at Rogers for over 30 years. People like Commissioner Marc Patrone who began his career at Scarborough Cable which is today part of Rogers TV.
6286 MS DINSMORE: In its 2002 policy statement the Commission decided to harden up local reflection and access obligations, it set 60 per cent local and 30 per cent access minimums for all cable-operated community television stations.
6287 The record is absolutely clear, by stretching every available dollar Rogers TV has met and continues each and every year to meet or exceed our policy-enshrined obligations. For example, in 2008 and 2009 alone our 34 community stations produced over 14,300 hours of original local and access programming, most of it the work of volunteers both on and off camera.
6288 As the Commission knows, local television doesn't come cheaply. The Commission has asked whether $35 million could be cut from cable community channel budgets. To do so would result in a severe reduction in the amount and quality of programming we offer to our customers. The impact would be even more profound in smaller markets where there is a far greater need for more programming, not none, and for more funding, not less.
6289 At Rogers TV community involvement isn't a slogan, it is a fact of life. Each year we train over 2,000 volunteers to make thousands of hours of local and access programming. Most of what you see is a result of community feedback and community participation.
6290 Those are the facts and we look forward to discussing them with you. But before inviting your questions, let me ask Phil to sum up for us.
6292 MR. LIND: Mr. Chairman, we take the operation of Rogers TV very seriously indeed. We are in regular contact with members of the communities we serve through online polls, bi-annual surveys, viewer response lines and focus groups. We seek out and include innovative ideas and alternative views.
6293 Our only request to you this morning is that you judge Rogers TV on what we do. Please judge us on our own merits, our fiscal prudence, our compliance, total compliance with access and local programming obligations, our proven track record of openness and community outreach and our value to viewers. If you do that, I am convinced that, like us, you will conclude that Rogers TV has earned your support and the right to carryon serving our viewers in an environment of regulatory certainty and financial stability.
6294 Thank you very much. We await your questions.
6295 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you for your presentation. I don't know to what extent our hearing is representative, but I have heard nothing but good things about Rogers Cable TV during the last week and I congratulate you. Obviously, you know, at least the people who appeared before us feel that you are meeting the need of community TV.
6296 Which leads me to the question that -- the previous person before you was Martha Fusca and I asked her, you know, couldn't we -- since there is such desperate treatment or regard of cable TV in various parts of the country and by various users, could we not establish on an industry-wide basis basically a standard of what is a code of whatever you want to call it, good behaviour, best practices or so for community TV so that we get uniform treatment across the country? And that should obviously be developed by the industry and the community groups, et cetera.
6297 I mean, we have heard here during the last week that some community cable basically have no meetings at all with community groups, others seem to have very regular and organized, et cetera; the percentage of funding, the percentage of exhibition, the interaction, the use of equipment and all of this.
6298 I mean, since you seem to be one of the most successful models, do you have sort of an internal code or internal guidelines et cetera that one could use as a basis for discussion?
6299 MS WATSON: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
6300 We abide by -- we are nothing if not pragmatic and obedient. And so there is a regulatory framework that was issued in 2002. There is also the cable television community standards that we frame ourselves and that is what we base the guidelines are.
6301 We do have a document of best practices on how to translate your standards and the framework into everyday practices. But for the most part, it is the framework that was created by the CRTC in 2002 that we use.
6302 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but having the framework is one thing, but in terms of making a living a reality, like you have, is a different story. So that document that you have there, are you prepared to table that with us and share it?
6303 MS WATSON: The document is your community channel standards. You mean our policies and practices?
6304 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
6305 MS WATSON: Yes, for sure, absolutely.
6306 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you do that please?
6307 MS WATSON: Yes.
6308 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Then you are the only one who answered my question about the $35 million, but the answer was very short and said it will have severe impact. Can you put a bit of flesh on the bones please, because I am not quite understanding. We said in 1998 that 2 per cent, which then amounted to $67 million, should be spent on it. Obviously, there was inflation and by our calculation at 17 -- maybe your calculation will make it 19 or so, let's not quibble about the exact number. But the whole idea was that is sort of seemed to us an appropriate amount to spend on it. Why should we now spend basically double that amount?
6309 MS WATSON: If I may, Mr. Chair, I will start and then hand off to my colleague David Watt.
6310 I guess our issue with that number is the premise that the funding was at the right level in 1998 where you start your chart. And you may recall that the BDU regs changed on January 1, 1998. So at the end of 1997 we went from a 5 per cent guideline to fund community television overnight to 2 per cent.
6311 In the fall of 1997 I had to lay off 80 people, I had to shutdown stations, and programming was severely cutback everywhere because we lost a significant amount of money pretty much from October 1997 to January 1, 1998. It took us until about mid to third quarter 2004 to get back to pre-1998 levels with respect to where we were at just to ramp up the amount of programming that we had before the cuts took place.
6312 So that is the issue we have, is you are not starting at the right place to gauge whether we are properly funded or not. We can go through dollar by dollar, which Mr. Watt can take you through if you like.
6313 THE CHAIRPERSON: But by 2004 you were at the right levels, is that --
6314 MS WATSON: We were at pre-1998 levels. So that doesn't mean we were at the right level in 1997, it just means we just got back to where we were in 1997.
6315 Then your framework came in in 20002 with a really heavy access component. So between 2002 and today we have grown our access, a number of community groups who come through our doors, by 142 per cent. We are still producing 15,000 to 17,000 hours a year of programming and all of that takes money.
6316 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are you over-exceeding your access minima?
6317 MS WATSON: No. Oh, our access minima, I thought you meant our spending minimum. Yes, we are exceeding our access minimum. You know, it goes market by market. But overall, provincially in Ontario it is at 37 per cent, but you get some markets like Ottawa where it is at close to 60 per cent, and then it is in the smaller markets where there is not as much in terms of resources, it hovers around between 35 and 40.
6318 THE CHAIRPERSON: I have lots of other questions for you, but my colleagues have you sort of as a main course, so I will pass you over to Peter Menzies.
6319 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
6320 I was tempted to ask more about Patrone, but I will go into other areas.
6321 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: We have seen a number of different operators and stakeholders who have presented what I call different perspectives on what might constitute community access programming. And I just want to get an idea of how you define it.
6322 What level of citizen participation in a given program do you use to catalogue that program as access programming? Is it the individual or group is involved in production, the individual or group is the subject matter or the individual or group is providing technical support?
6323 MS WATSON: It is about editorial content, so who decides the subject of the program is access.
6324 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Is it the person who decides the subject of the program or is it the subject of the program?
6325 MS WATSON: First, let me tell you that every program we do is community-produced with respect to involvement on the technical side. In my 20 years there has only been one program that was produced by all staff, and that was Mr. Rogers' funeral last year. Everything else we have ever done has a volunteer or two or 10. We have a ratio of about six volunteers to every staff member.
6326 Now, when it comes to classifying what is access versus licensee-produced, it is whose idea was it and who wants to come on and talk about whatever it is they are coming to talk about? So whether they come on themselves or they have the idea, that is how we determine.
6327 There are different types of access requests as well. There are the boy scouts who want to come and talk about their new digital badge, and then there is a woman who would like to do a 13-part cooking show. So probably 80 per cent of our access requests are requests that fall in the first bucket. You know, my high school is going to Reach for the Top, can you do something? Will you do our high school game? Will you cover my Junior B hockey team? Will you promote the blood donor clinic? Will you talk about my book? I'm a local author. Those kinds of things.
6328 So when the new policy was created, those requests fell to the wayside. So we met with CRTC staff and said, what if we create a vehicle that is somewhat like a talk show, but it will all be about these requests, and this way they can come on more expeditiously? So those vehicles we created with the blessing of the CRTC and those are the ones that take care of those 80 per cent.
6329 And then there are sporting requests that are, you know, people from the community say, will you come and cover my high school game? But they don't necessarily -- are on camera, they just wanted us to come and cover the game. And then there are the other programs where they control everything, they just need help coordinating studio access, will we send a camera to their festival, to their chamber of commerce awards, to whatever it is they have going.
6330 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. So it is whose idea it is and then it doesn't really matter from there, that is how you categorize it?
6331 MS WATSON: Yes.
6332 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thanks.
6333 You have I think 79 or so exempt BDUs, mostly in New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Do you offer community channels or VOD programming in the communities served by those exempt BDUs?
6334 MS DINSMORE: We offer community programming in four of those exempt systems.
6335 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Has the level of funding changed for those four since the BDU began operating under the exemption order?
6336 MS DINSMORE: No, it has remained the same, at 5 per cent.
6337 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: In the areas where there isn't any, was there community programming prior to the exemption?
6338 MS DINSMORE: Where there wasn't any programming?
6339 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: In the areas where there isn't any currently, had there been some before, prior to the exemption?
6340 MS WATSON: Not while we were operating the system. We bought New Brunswick in 2000.
6341 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. Was there community programming operating there before you bought it?
6342 MS WATSON: I am not really familiar, but I-- I don't think so.
6343 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Maybe you can just confirm for us later then. Thank you.
6344 What would be the impact on your exempt BDUs if the Commission were to require that exempt BDUs offer or fund community programming?
6345 MS DINSMORE: We have a number of systems where they are just really really small and there wouldn't really be enough funding to do anything of any significance, so we don't offer community programming today.
6346 MS WATSON: Commissioner, in one of those systems, for example, there are 44 subscribers, so 5 per cent of whatever they give us every month, you can't make anything with that.
6347 MR. KOVACS: Yes, I would just add that of the 71 systems that are currently exempt, the average size is 300 of the 71 systems. So they are just not sustainable on a subscriber-funded basis.
6348 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. So how is this going to develop in the years ahead as you get more and more urbanized communities? Can you see the community programming becoming more regional and less local in that regard?
6349 MS WATSON: Well, that is exactly what we were faced with in New Brunswick. You know, New Brunswick we have about -- in 2002, when the policy was implemented, about 140,000 subscribers and 179 licences. So you it is really hard to make that work when you have to operate on a licence by licence basis.
6350 So we sat down with Commission staff and Nick Ketchum and said, look, I don't know how I can make this work. So we grouped them. A lot of these communities are 15-20 minutes apart. And we created, together with CRTC staff, the zone-based model in New Brunswick where we grouped them all and you pool the resources from all the subscribers in those licences to create a channel that still delivers the bulletin board they used to get and the bingo, but then a whole lot of other stuff that they didn't get before. And we think that model works.
6351 As you may have read, a lot of the submissions -- we have 518 interventions about New Brunswick in this process, three of them were negative, the rest were overwhelmingly positive. So we think that is a solution.
6352 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: There has been a lot of discussion in recent years regarding funding mandated by the CRTC. Why are you content with the 2 per cent rate mandated by the CRTC for community TV and what would --
6353 MS WATSON: Well, it works. You know, would Scott Jackson in New Brunswick like five? Yes, he would, and he could do a lot more. But overall, it works. Our record speaks for itself, almost 30,000 community groups came through our doors, 15,000 hours of original programming every year. I think the model that the CRTC developed and the way we apply it works, so the funding at this level works.
6354 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: What would your response be if we moved it up?
6355 MS WATSON: Well, Scott would dance a jig, but other than that, we would do more programming, we would probably introduce closed captioning and do things that we don't have the budget to do today?
6356 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Would you pass it along to the consumer on their cable bill?
6357 MS WATSON: Well, I am assuming if it is 5 per cent it is already included in the 5 per cent bucket.
6358 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: No, I am saying what if the community portion went up and the other portion stayed and it went from 5 to 5.5, 5.6? I don't know, I am not trying to detail a number. But basically, what would your response be if the overall contribution went up?
6359 MS WATSON: Well, I think I will let Mr. Engelhart take that one.
6360 MR. ENGELHART: I don't think we have, you know, talked about whether we would put that on the bill or not. You don't want to confuse customers too much. And believe it or not, the amount of that customer's bill that goes to community channels differs from community to community. In Moncton there is an English channel and a French channel, we are allowed to deduct 2 per cent and 2 per cent.
6361 Some of the smaller systems it is 5 per cent, so it would actually be a bit of an IT nightmare to put for each customer on their bill how much they are paying for the community channel. So I am not sure we would go down that path.
6362 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. What would you do if we made it go down?
6363 MS WATSON: We would work within that funding framework and programming would be cut.
6364 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Would people's cable bills go down?
6365 MS WATSON: No, the money we have to spend on community television would go down.
6366 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. But if the obligation of the BDU to pay 2 per cent of its revenue were to decline from I don't know, I am just picking a number out of the air, call it 10 per cent to 1.8, so the instead of the 5 per cent it becomes 4.8. Who gets the money?
6367 MR. ENGELHART: I mean, generally speaking, businesses pass on their costs and similarly if their costs go down, that is generally reflected in prices. Would it happen the next day or the week after? I mean, these are decisions we would have to take.
6368 Sometimes what you find is that we would spend more on a certain other type of programming or maybe some other costs would have gone up. But generally, I think your point is the correct one, which is that our prices reflect the costs that are inputs to our business.
6369 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. So did you just say that a savings like that would be probably passed along to your customers?
6370 MR. ENGELHART: Yes.
6371 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
6372 Just more broadly, this is a little bit more philosophical about the role of community programming. When it was introduced many years ago in the 1960s and 1970s it had a very strong sort of democratic purpose, that community television would be outside of either public broadcaster or corporate controlled, that it would be genuinely community. You have heard a lot of about that in terms of the CACTUS proposal and that sort of thing.
6373 Do you think that purpose is still relevant and do you think it can be served by a large corporate entity such as yourself?
6374 MS WATSON: Yes and yes, and let me expand upon that. Phil has a wonderful story about when he created community television in the Toronto area, started with multicultural programming in Toronto Proper.
6375 But the first city council ever to be televised was in Brampton, Ontario on the channel that Phil created. And he gets quite a kick out of the fact that he went in and they televised it and took a bit of convincing to allow them to come in. And in the next election not one of them was re-elected.
6376 MS WATSON: So that was democracy at its best, in his words. And we have maintained that for the last 41 years. So democracy is what is the cornerstone of a lot of the programming we do, whether it is election coverage, whether it is city council every week, whether it is the Mayor's Hour, MPs, MPPs, every elected representative comes to our studios and takes phone calls from viewers and constituents. I don't see that it is in any danger as a result of being in the hands of a BDU.
6377 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. I mean, your critics would say that they don't have enough opportunity to get on and, say, rage against the size of their cable bill or things like that. Is that sort of editorial freedom? I guess, is it still available to people within this structure?
6378 MS WATSON: It is, absolutely. We do a lot of stories. I was here last week and saw Commissioner Patrone's questions about, you know, the Cogeco and Shaw newscasts about cable rates. We have done programs about the safety of handheld cell phones in cars. We were the only BDU, if you will, to offer up Phil and Ted and Colin Watson and whoever the CEO of the day was to a one-hour once a month and then to take calls from viewers. And those calls were, you know, why is my cable bill going up? A lot of it was, why can't I have HBO? But a lot of it was, why are my cable bills going up? And the CEO put himself out there to answer those questions.
6379 So we didn't hide from those things at all, to the contrary.
6380 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Is this sort of programming still going to be relevant in the years ahead, given the impact of new media? I mean, you talked about doing the city council meetings. I can watch Calgary City Hall on their own website when they broadcast committee meetings. Montreal's City Council I think podcasts or has been podcasting recently some meetings and that sort of stuff.
6381 Given the proliferation of new media and the broadening of access to people, aren't we at risk here of overfunding or funding a segment that is going to be increasingly -- it is a niche as it is in terms of audience size. And then you have all this competition from new media which can just fragment that some more. I don't need to watch Calgary City Council on cable TV if I can watch it on my laptop.
6382 Your response please.
6383 MS WATSON: Well, today Ottawa, Toronto and Mississauga City Councils are online with our robotic cameras that we installed in those chambers. And they go live on television and live on camera and live on the web. And city council is still very much a vibrant part of what people come to us for. So I don't see that happening.
6384 I take your point that as the world changes. I watch my kids consume television and it is all off a laptop or an iPod, I understand that, and overtime we will evolve with it. But we are still the storefront and the meeting place for what is going on in a community. There is only so much a robotic camera can do with a high school football championship. There is only so much a robotic camera or a webcam can do with a high school graduation, with a ballet recital, with a Bluesfest concert.
6385 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Given that evolution, looking at your Ottawa programming last week, and it is very local, there is a lot of local access content on it. And I would just like your response to this. It struck me that that is a lot more local than my local OTA, right, in terms of the volume of local reflection and all those goals.
6386 If I really want local reflection I am going to get a lot more of it on my local cable station than I am say living in Calgary on my local OTA where there isn't -- and some do more, some do less -- but there is nowhere near the volume of local content on my OTA as there is from cable.
6387 Is this how it is developing? Is this what this is being used for, for these community cable stations to eventually become and fill the role that a local OTA used to?
6388 MS WATSON: Well, the programming you find on our channels today has pretty much been what we have always had. But absolutely, we fill the void. There used to be a talk show on over-the-air in Ottawa on CJOH, if I can call it that for the purpose of this discussion. And there used to be Romper Room and the variety show, I forget the name of it, something Café. And so they have withdrawn. That is their decision. But it only made people then come to us some more.
6389 So if you are Margaret Dickenson and you really absolutely want to have a cooking show and you are from Ottawa and the Food Network won't talk to you and HGTV channel won't talk to you, and W won't talk to you and CJOH says, well, you can come on my AChannel once in a while. And they come to us and say, well, can we have a cooking show? We say, yes.
6390 And I think that is where we shine. And it is to your point previously about will new media take this over? I think people have come to recognize that if they want to see their communities reflected, they will come to the community channel.
6391 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Well, how would you address the concerns of others who are telling us not to allow advertising, for instance, because this is just going to create a more and more powerful Rogers community cable or Shaw community cable and that, to their detriment, you no doubt overheard the CTS in the previous session. Those people, and others, are encouraging us to make sure that the community sector is healthy, but -- and I don't want to put words in their mouth, so I am saying this -- healthy but not too healthy.
6392 MS WATSON: Well, we are not asking for advertising, so they have nothing to fear from us. And there seems to be this parallel that because it looks good and people like it, it must be dangerous. And so we are not out to cannibalize local advertising rates. We didn't ask for advertising concessions, so we are happy with the funding mechanism the way it is now.
6393 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And on that too, there has been some criticism that you have professionalized community cable, which, frankly, I am not quite sure what to make of that because in part people want it to be -- if it should serve the community, it should be good, but I don't understand the professionalization.
6394 Do you have anything that can indicate to us how over the years audiences have grown in lockstep with what we would call the increased professionalization of the service or are they still about the same as they used to be?
6395 MS WATSON: Our audience is about the same as it has been for the last seven or eight years. We are holding steady with respect to that, so we are holding our own in the fragmentation world.
6396 But, you know, professionalization is relative, if you will. The University of Western Ontario does a program called "Mustangs TV" that airs on a channel in London and for a while they stopped doing it at our studio because their equipment was too bad. So the University got better equipment and they started doing theirs. So it is all relative. We are able to professionalize as our budgets allow that.
6397 But we train thousands of people every year and training is a big part of the 2002 framework and it is a big deal to us. So if you are going to train them, you may as well train them on the right equipment because they go from us to a job in the broadcasting sector. When they graduate from us, we take that news quite happily. We are quite proud that we have done our job.
6398 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: My last question is: Do you own and retain the rights to all the programming that you broadcast?
6399 MS WATSON: No, not all. I mean a lot of the sort of more creative series like "The Film Student," that are owned by the students themselves. "The Dickinson Cooking Show" I mentioned is owned by the Dickinsons. So it is whatever the creator of the series works out with us.
6400 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thank you.
6401 THE CHAIRPERSON: Len?
6402 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6403 Good morning. I have a couple of questions.
6404 If you were in the room this morning, you would have heard me ask a question about administering monetary penalties. I looked at your concluding paragraph and you basically say:
"Please, judge us on our own merits, our fiscal prudence, our compliance with access and local programming..."
6405 What are your views about the CRTC having the ability to use surgical tools rather than broad-brush tools in order to deal with transgressors?
6406 MS DINSMORE: Well, your broad-brush tools which have been employed in the past have worked, so I don't think we would advocate for the surgical tools that you are contemplating, but at the same time it wouldn't pose a problem to us since we are in compliance with all of our obligations in any given year.
6407 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is that yes or no?
6408 MS DINSMORE: We are not advocating for it, but if you impose it, we wouldn't oppose it.
6409 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Well, it is not up to us to impose obviously, it is up to the government to provide us with those tools. But the issue is that if in fact there are some parties out there that from time to time may cross the line, rather than us being required to sort of create an environment that is more accountable, more responsible, more reporting and all those issues, is there not some other way of being much more tactical and strategic rather than -- more surgical rather than strategic, I guess, is the issue.
6410 MS DINSMORE: Well, you have asked for these powers in other contexts, so it would be consistent with, you know, what you are looking for on the telecom side. So, you know, again, we are not advocating that you get those powers, but if you do, we wouldn't be opposed to it.
6411 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
6412 MR. KOVACS: Sorry. I would just add that, you know, with licence renewals you have the ability to impose shorter-term renewals when there have been issues that need to be resolved, addressed, and there are many complaints-driven issues which can be brought to the fore fairly quickly and addressed in a timely manner on a licensee-by-licensee basis.
6413 So I think the existing tools today kind of give you that power and, if need be, you could have an expedited hearing if there was something that was really not in compliance that you could address.
6414 COMMISSIONER KATZ: How often do you get your licence renewal and how long is the term of your licence?
6415 MR. KOVACS: Seven years.
6416 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So you want us to set aside a complaint for seven years and look at it seven years later in order to deal with it?
6417 MR. KOVACS: It is just one example. We know with other BDUs where it has been like a short term, like a two-year renewal, and knowing that that is the potential -- because it is quite an administrative burden to have to go through that process to apply and renew -- knowing that that is there, you try to keep your house in order.
6418 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. I think I have heard a response to this question but I wasn't sure. Do you spend more than the 2 percent that comes from the community component to the 5 percent today?
6419 MS WATSON: No.
6420 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You do not?
6421 MS WATSON: No.
6422 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So you balance your budget to meet that 2 percent requirement?
6423 MS WATSON: Yes.
6424 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. In your opening remarks today you didn't comment on the power of the internet directly but you did in your February 1st submission. If I can direct you to paragraphs 91 and 92 you actually talk about the power of broadband services and the benefits that broadband can provide in terms of community programming as well.
6425 To what extent are you levering that benefit yourselves today?
6426 MS WATSON: Mr. Vice-Chair, the 2 percent allocation does not -- is for the linear television channels. So we didn't want to spend a lot of money developing that because we felt it was outside of the framework of rules with respect to spending. So we have companion websites that promote our schedule, give you an online way to register as a volunteer, send us program proposals, but for the most part it is a promotional tool.
6427 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You don't see the community channel as a benefit, as a competitive benefit to your offerings as Rogers Television relative to the competitors that are out there?
6428 MS WATSON: Like everything we do at Rogers, we like to do a good job. So it started in 1969 as something that was a way to add value to the cable package and then in the early 70s it became regulated and became an obligation until 1998, and then we kept it along in 1998 under this new funding mechanism and working within the framework.
6429 It is something we like doing, it is something we are proud of and we do it well. As a result, some of our customers enjoy it so much they choose to stay with us as a provider because of that. But I don't take a whole lot of credit. We do well. Things that we do well end up reflecting as an advantage on the entire cable package but it is not treated as a huge competitive advantage. For the most part it is a public service.
6430 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So if it is a public service, why did you go about rebranding it from the community channel to Rogers TV?
6431 MS WATSON: For the same reason when we make a donation to Ryerson we put a big Rogers logo on the cheque and we make a cheque presentation, we hope the newspaper comes and takes a picture of it.
6432 What we do, it is a significant sum of money and we would like people to acknowledge or we would like to acknowledge our contribution to the community in a two-way partnership with respect to here is what we are offering you, this is yours, come in and do some programming, you want your Junior B game on, here it is, here is a place to come.
6433 We do it well and then we like for them to look (a) kindly upon us for it but mostly (b) come to watch it and come through our doors to participate in it.
6434 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But it comes back to the same basic principle. It is the consumer's money, it is their 2 percent that is going on, and I guess when other folks were here last week we talked about stewardship and the BDUs being the stewards of this funding as well.
6435 So why would you remove the brand of community? I understand the Rogers in front of it. I know very well the value of the Rogers name behind it as well and I have no problem with it. I am just wondering why you removed the community aspect to it in terms of the branding if it is the public's and the community's money.
6436 MS WATSON: You mean changing the word "Rogers Community TV" to "Rogers TV"?
6437 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Yes.
6438 MS WATSON: To be honest, it was shorter to fit on the IPG. It is really that simple. Most people look at -- view the community channel as cable 10, cable 22, something like that. So we thought, well, okay, it is cable 10 in Toronto, it is cable 22 in Ottawa, it is 13 in London, it is 20 in Kitchener -- remember that we lost a ton of money between '97 and '98 and so things that we could do once and that you don't have to redo everywhere and 34 different times, we did once.
6439 So would we have liked to have called it Durham TV? Yes. But then the money disappeared and we thought, okay, well, we are just going to call it Rogers TV everywhere. It fits on the IPG, it fits in the branding and most people know where it is anyway. And then we called it that way.
6440 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. I am going to come back to the notion of new media. You said that the budget or the allocation doesn't allow you to use those funds in a new media environment and so you do it sparingly. I am trying to understand. You have argued that CACTUS, to the extent that they think there is a need or they feel there is a need to have community involvement, should be using the internet, and yet, you are saying that from your perspective, because you can't use the money that is earmarked for community, you don't use it.
6441 So I will ask the question: First of all, do you see the value of the internet for community programming?
6442 MS WATSON: Some. I do. There are varying levels of citizen access and citizen journalism and all of that. So what we found through a variety of proceedings, starting with the Lee Weston licence application a few years prior and then the CACTUS proposals, is that they are a little short on facts or details with respect to the critical mass of programming they are proposing.
6443 So in the Lee Weston example, they were looking for a digital channel that allowed -- that had just a minute amount of programming and they wanted a full digital to talk to the Jane-Finch Corridor in that neighbourhood of Toronto. Really difficult to give them a digital channel that goes all across Ontario to address the concerns of the Jane-Finch Corridor. So we thought the internet, a website is the place to go for that because it becomes hyper-local by neighbourhood.
6444 So the same applies to -- that is what we meant with that is how the internet can best be used. The same applies to the CACTUS proposal. They really don't tell us if they have eight hours or 8,000 hours of programming, so it is quite difficult to say what is the best platform. But if it is neighbourhood-related, then we think the internet is probably the most cost-effective and prudent with respect to spectrum use.
6445 COMMISSIONER KATZ: What would your views be if the Commission broadened the use of the 2 percent to include new media, much like the Minister of Heritage broadened the rules regarding the CTF so that it has to be on more than one platform in order to acquire the funding?
6446 MS WATSON: I would have to think about it a little bit. My hesitation is I wouldn't want to take away from what our communities are getting today. It is already a struggle to make ends meet in the smaller -- in places like New Brunswick and Newfoundland where we group a bunch of small licences together. So I don't want to take them away from that.
6447 But if there is a way to evolve, as I said earlier, to evolve with the rest of the industry, we will be there.
6448 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Can I direct you to paragraph 92 then of your submission of February 1st, just to conclude. In the middle there you say:
"This can all be done in a broadband environment at a fraction of the cost of establishing a traditional television service. With respect to community-based digital media services in particular, Rogers believes the online environment is a far more appropriate distribution vehicle than cable distribution. This is because it is perfectly suited to services that provide niche audiences with hyper-focused content."
6449 If that is the case and if we did broaden the ability for you to use those funds, then you could do it far more efficiently and at a lower cost, could you not?
6450 MS WATSON: Not for the volume that we were doing. This was related to the critical mass that is -- that is the number in the equation that is missing in these applicants, right. This was related to is CACTUS proposing eight hours or 8,000 hours and is it about the Jane-Finch Corridor or is it about the garbage strike in Toronto?
6451 So for the four hours of the Jane-Finch Corridor or the hour a week for the Jane-Finch Corridor, rather than give them a whole channel, they could have a website, they could walk right on and do it today.
6452 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But the reality is as technology changes, as community involvement can be reached through multiple sources -- and I respect the fact that Ted and Mr. Lind started the community channel 40 years ago. There was no internet back then. That was the vehicle, that was the vision they had. It was a phenomenal vision.
6453 But as we move forward, there are alternate sources out there as well and some, one would think, would be more efficient and more effective and more costly and I guess you identified it right here as well. So I am just wondering why -- and it goes back to the comment the Chairman raised early on with regard to the growth in the BDU business that has resulted in a huge growth in the contribution to community, which Rogers has put to good use. I am not questioning it.
6454 But again, there are other uses of these funds as well and there are a lot of people that are beckoning for some of this funding as well and we are sort of saying, if there are new creative ways of doing it that are more efficient and more effective, why wouldn't we give, first of all, Rogers the tools to use it and allow you to use those funds for the media applications as well and ultimately the other platforms that you folks provide and pass through some of those savings to other interest groups or communities that need it.
6455 MS WATSON: Vice-Chair, paragraph 92 is about the distribution platform. It still costs the same amount of money to produce a program whether you are doing it for the Web or TV or VOD. It is platform-agnostic. So you still have to create the program.
6456 So yes. Could we save money by doing a high school football championship with two cameras instead of six? Yes, but it would diminish the experience for those football players, for those high schools and for the viewers. So I don't see a ton of savings with respect to that.
6457 What we were saying is from a spectrum capacity perspective, the efficient way to do hyper-local today, without coming to you for a licence, is using the internet.
6458 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay, those are my questions.
6459 MR. KOVACS: I would just add on that point. In the Lee Weston case, where we are talking about a digital undertaking that was seeking carriage, under the rules they would get a carriage right. Even though they sought to serve just a very small geographical area, ultimately they would be carried on our entire network and use up spectrum that way. That was the point Colette was getting at in terms of the efficient use when its purpose is very über-niche, über-local.
6460 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel?
6461 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6462 Just coming back on one question the Chairman asked, and Vice-Chair Katz as well, regarding monetary penalties, I am a bit surprised by your answer but I understand that you answered it from the perspective of the BDU. But wouldn't it have been preferable if the Commission had a monetary penalties ability when the CHOI-FM case came before them, rather than having to revoke their licence?
6463 MS DINSMORE: Given that you didn't have the powers then, you did what you could do with what you had.
6464 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: At the time, yes.
6465 MS DINSMORE: Absolutely. So we don't know because you didn't have those powers. Possibly. Possibly it would have been --
6466 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: The likelihood is that the penalties would have come much earlier in the game than at the very last day since there was a fairly long process before the Commission at the end of the day decided not to renew the licence.
6467 MS DINSMORE: I mean it is the traditional way that we all know that the Commission disciplines licensees. They give them shorter and shorter licence --
6468 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes, because that is what the Act --
6469 MS DINSMORE: Yes.
6470 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: That is the tool that the Act has given the Commission.
6471 MS DINSMORE: Yes. So, as I said before, if you are given a new tool, we are not opposed to that and we think that we can live within those boundaries very happily because we are in full compliance.
6472 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just say: We support it. That is all we want to hear from you.
6473 MS DINSMORE: I think you have our position on the record.
6474 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Okay. My question more than likely will be answered by Mrs. Watson. I understand that you are operating some French community channels in both Ontario and in New Brunswick. Now, they are not throughout the two provinces. It is my understanding, am I right, that they are localized?
6475 MS WATSON: The Ottawa station is in Ottawa and the Moncton station is throughout New Brunswick.
6476 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: So in New Brunswick there is only one and it is based in Moncton?
6477 MME WATSON : Oui.
6478 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: So people in Bathurst or in Caraquet are getting --
6479 MS WATSON: Miramichi, Edmundston, they all get it.
6480 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: They are all getting the service out of --
6481 MS WATSON: That is the Francophone area of New Brunswick, so for sure, absolutely.
6482 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes, except that there is quite a distance between Caraquet and Moncton or Caraquet at least and Moncton and Edmundston.
6483 MME WATSON : Ah, bien, Monsieur Arpin, il y a un bureau à Edmundston et à Miramichi.
6484 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Donc, les gens peuvent faire de la production locale dans ces endroits?
6485 MME WATSON : Exact.
6486 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Du côté d'Ottawa, c'est limité à la Ville d'Ottawa?
6487 MME WATSON : Oui... bien, le service de zone de desserte que nous avons ici à Ottawa.
6488 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Que vous avez ici à Ottawa?
6489 MME WATSON : Oui.
6490 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Merci, Madame.
6491 THE CHAIRPERSON: Rita?
6492 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Yes, thank you, just a couple of follow-up questions with regards to your access programming.
6493 Miss Watson, I believe you said that the percentage of access programming varies market to market. Are you ever in a situation where your demand for access far exceeds the supply?
6494 MS WATSON: No.
6495 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: So you are able to fulfil all the requests for access programming in all markets?
6496 MS WATSON: No, I didn't say that.
6497 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay.
6498 MS WATSON: You know, sometimes there will be a high school come to us, they would like something done and it is on the same day as a hockey tournament that we have already committed to. The mobile is already gone, so we have to say no to the volleyball championship because we promised -- and it is just a matter of they both want it covered on the same day. So from that perspective, we do, unfortunately, have to turn some down. It is a matter of who asks first.
6499 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay, because that was going to be my next question, is what goes into the decision-making process in determining who does get access and who doesn't.
6500 As you know, some participants in these proceedings have suggested that the 70:30 ratio isn't appropriate and that the 30 percent should be increased. Do you care to comment on whether -- or if we were to increase the 30 percent access portion, is there a level that would be acceptable to Rogers, given the fact that you said that you exceed 30 percent just about everywhere?
6501 MS WATSON: The framework now has a mechanism. I don't think you need to change it. The mechanism is 60 percent has to be local; 50 percent of that has to be access, which translates into 30 percent. If, however, there is a demonstrated -- and I emphasize demonstrated -- requirement for increased access, you have to go to 50. If you can't meet 50, then you have to give some funding and some time to a third party not-for-profit group.
6502 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Right.
6503 MS WATSON: So that exists already. That pushes it up to 50.
6504 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: So no changes are required?
6505 MS WATSON: It works for us.
6506 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay, thank you very much. Those are my questions.
6507 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel?
6508 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks, Mr. Chair.
6509 It is a very general question but I want to provide you some context. As you know, in the United States, Comcast, the largest cable operator, is voluntarily turning over management and control of dozens of its community access channels to local non-profit associations and municipalities.
6510 Yesterday, an article in the journal "Star" -- not "The Star" journal -- entitled "On the Air: Comcast bids adieu to public access," and the article says:
"But not just here: Comcast and other cable TV outlets across the country are handing off the responsibility for managing public access programs to the communities, themselves. ... Bids are due by May 13."
6511 Not just Comcast but Time Warner too. Some of your staff members will probably go to Los Angeles for the Cable Show next week. Last December, December the 31st, Time Warner said that it would shut down 14 public access channels in the City of Los Angeles -- so I have here a whole bunch of decisions from the cable industry south of the border -- instead of trying to reorganize the whole thing on a regional basis.
6512 I understand that since 2002 you have tried to regionalize many of your activities and you have kept all the consumer contributions even though the community channels have become more and more regional and less and less local.
6513 Has it ever occurred to you why it would be a good idea in Canada for the BDUs to do the same as is done in the United States?
6514 MR. LIND: Sir, we have had extensive experience with that issue in the United States. There are differing views as to who provides the best local community channels. In our cities, in Portland, in Minneapolis, San Antonio, we opted to do it ourselves and to control the access provisions within our operation, and it was very, very successful.
6515 Other companies, particularly companies that had other programming aspirations, like if you wanted to buy NBC, for example, they decided that they, in certain areas anyway, would not participate in this thing. So they would just write a cheque, hand the money over to a community access group. This, generally speaking, has proven very, very problematic to the cities that this has occurred in.
6516 Then the cities have to get involved in deciding who is going to get the money, sometimes the programs have been a little less than good in terms of the subject matter or the professionalism or both, and it has not turned out to be a very happy experience for them, generally speaking.
6517 So I would say if you feel this way, speak to the people in Portland or Minneapolis or San Antonio or Orange County, where we were, and you will find that they think that at the time we were providing a far better service than just cutting a cheque and passing it over and letting everybody fight over it. We provided a better service.
6518 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks for your answer.
6519 THE CHAIRPERSON: Marc?
6520 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I want to thank Rogers for not digging up video of me from back in 1983, although I suspect it wasn't for lack of trying.
6521 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I do have an access question.
6522 I believe, Ms Watson, you said whoever decides the content of the program, that determines whether it is access or not; is that correct?
6523 And it struck me, on the face of it, as rather thin criteria because no hands-on participation from anyone outside the staff would need to take part, and yet, it would still qualify as access, because if the idea is a result of a phone call, you don't need a cameraperson from outside. I mean you can have that piece, that story or that show produced entirely by your staff members and it would still qualify as access.
6524 MS WATSON: No. I was a little too vague in that answer then if that is how you interpreted it.
6525 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay.
6526 MS WATSON: How we qualify it as access is whose idea was it. Normally, they don't just call and say, hey, wouldn't it be great if you had a comedy show, and then the next comedy show in, we say, oh, that is access.
6527 What I meant was wouldn't it be great if you had a comedy show, I have this idea for a comedy show, can I come and do a comedy show, and then that is access. Even though, like in the instance of Tom Green, everything was provided to him in terms of support and technical production by the community channel, Tom was the only one with editorial direction. And so, you know, I hope that there's agreement amongst ourselves that this was an access show, even though we provided everything but the editorial direction.
6528 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I'm just wondering if there shouldn't be some kind of criterion whereby the majority of the people who participate in the production of that show, whether it's an audio person, switcher, director, floor director, on and on and on, would constitute something that would qualify as access.
6529 MS WATSON: Well, if we did that today every program we do would be access. Every program we do has the audio guy, the camera person, the floor director, they're all volunteers, they're all members of the community.
6530 Every multicultural group that comes through our doors is classified as access. We have one producer who handles 23 groups, so...
6531 But then the flipside of that is an OHL game where we have -- the OHL came to us and said, can we have -- could you cover our games? We thought since they said, could you cover our games that it was access even though we provide all the resources, but we were told by the CRTC to count it as local origination or licensee produced.
6532 So, there's everything in between. If you count everything that includes volunteers, the ratio is 6:1. So for every staff there are six volunteers, everything would end up being access.
6533 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: You spoke a little bit about the editorial safeguards between the news and the business side of the operation.
6534 Is that engrained in company policy or is it just loosely applied per location?
6535 MS WATSON: Let me just check with the policy expert.
6536 It's in our practice -- our practices document, not the company policies.
6537 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Last question.
6538 Is there any overlap between CityTV's news programming and any of your community TV channels programming?
6539 MS WATSON: No, none at all. Do they ask to borrow our equipment sometimes? Sometimes.
6540 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Equipment. So, if somebody -- if your outlet in Richmond Hill had some exclusive video and City really wanted access to it because they didn't have it, then you would draw the line and say, sorry?
6541 MS WATSON: No, they get it and then when Global calls they get it and when CJOH calls and they want clips of the high school championship, they get it.
6542 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So, it's made available to all broadcasters?
6543 MS WATSON: Absolutely.
6544 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you.
6545 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6546 A couple of clean-up questions.
6547 Ms Watson, how much of the two percent do you spend on access funding?
6548 MS WATSON: We don't break it out that way because all our costs are in sort of generic pots as opposed to by program.
6549 THE CHAIRPERSON: Can you break it out that way?
6550 MS WATSON: Can I break it out for you? I don't think I can. Let me ask the financial experts though.
6551 MR. MacDONALD: Sorry. No, we're not able to break it out in that kind of manner.
6552 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. But if it's imposed as a requirement, you can set up the necessary financial structures to do so?
6553 MS WATSON: It would mean taking a producer and a portion of his time.
6554 THE CHAIRPERSON: I appreciate you have allocation issues, I mean, the whole issue is, you know, this is subscriber at your disposal, we want to see it's being spent to reflect the community, the best way to spend it is on access.
6555 So, knowing how much -- what portion of that money actually goes to access is a very vital part of the picture.
6556 MS WATSON: Well, perhaps we can table something for May 17th in terms of a proposal.
6557 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. At least, you know, I appreciate your systems aren't set up for that purpose, but if you could do some sort of estimates or something, because that is something we really need to know.
6558 Secondly, VOD. We've heard a lot here that some people say community access -- community programming can be delivered by VOD, it's natural for it because most of it is not time sensitive, it's just a question of having the right catalogue so people can find those things.
6559 And you heard MTS this morning who basically run a VOD. Others saying absolutely not, you're missing, this has to be linear broadcasting.
6560 Where do you stand on this?
6561 MS WATSON: In the middle.
6562 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good position.
6563 MS WATSON: Sixty percent of our programming now is done live and, so, VOD isn't quite there yet with respect to live programming.
6564 So, we'd have to wrap our heads around that.
6565 And I worry about access programming getting lost in the VOD library. We create a storefront, we market these programs in terms of tune-in promotions and cross-promotions over a variety of programs on air.
6566 So, I hope that they don't get lost with respect to that because they are the niche programs that we like to show to a wider audience.
6567 And, so, I have that concern.
6568 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you have this Rogers on-line now.
6569 MS WATSON: M'hmm.
6570 THE CHAIRPERSON: Which, if I missed my civic council meeting, but it actually is of course carried on Rogers community program, can I watch it on Rogers on-line?
6571 MS WATSON: Not necessarily City programming, but there is product right now on VOD. We like the VOD platform and over time as the platform itself gets more robust there will be more and more titles on it, but we have put programming on that is more -- that has a longer shelf space.
6572 Now, during elections, we make what we think is quite an exciting use of VOD. You take Toronto with 52 city wards and in a municipal election you've missed the debate with the candidates in your ward.
6573 Well then, you'd go to the VOD library, you click Ward 17, you look for your candidates, your ward and there it is.
6574 And we think it's a fantastic extension of what we do.
6575 And, so more and more we'll develop those.
6576 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you see your VOD -- sorry, your community offering over time being partially linear and partially VOD?
6577 MS WATSON: Always linear with the extension on VOD.
6578 THE CHAIRPERSON: With the extension on VOD. Okay.
6579 Yesterday you heard Bell making a proposal here and they basically -- they admitted, though somewhat self-serving, to take away the competitive advantage of the incumbent cable companies having community service, while they don't now, but as they roll out their IP TV and as it becomes more, let's say, for example, when they reach the point where half of Toronto is wired by IP TV, et cetera.
6580 They said why have two competitive community service. Community services by their nature are not competitive, they're supposed to reflect the community and they should then, subject to working out the governance, be put deeper under and it shouldn't be Rogers community TV or Bell TV, but basically Toronto community TV and the resources to be pooled and to be used.
6581 Where do you stand on that proposal?
6582 I mean, IP TV isn't here right now, I appreciate that, but they propose it as a future orientation.
6583 MR. ENGELHART: I think it's better to do it competitively. I thought the MTS people today had some interesting things they were doing.
6584 They would not have done that if they could have just kicked some money into a fund and taken over the Shaw community television in Winnipeg.
6585 So, having to come up with a competitive service forced them to do something interesting.
6586 So, I think -- you know, usually I hear the Bell people saying that market forces are terrific and that you should stay out and you should stop helping the new entrants, and this is I guess the one time when they've taken a little different view.
6587 But I think that the market can provide some benefits. I think, as Colette said, it keeps us on our toes when our name is on it and it makes us do a better job and I think -- and then she mentioned before that, well, what if there's, you know, a skating tournament one day and it conflicts against a basketball game. Well, we could cover one and they could cover one.
6588 So, I think that would be a good thing.
6589 THE CHAIRPERSON: You don't see sort of a conceptual problem here? I mean, community programming is supposed to reflect the community, it's not supposed -- it is not your money, it's the money that you have to administer under what Len elects to call a stewardship and you do it for the community.
6590 So, shouldn't they decide whether they want to have it competitive or not?
6591 MR. ENGELHART: Well, I'd be very interested to know what the community would think about that. They might think it's better to have, you know, two people covering events than just one.
6592 But I think that even something with a stronger public interest component as this benefits from competition and I think the creative things the MTS people are doing are...
6593 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. But I'm following that and I see a lot of logic to your argument and your name it, you're careful, you will make sure it's quality, as you've done. I mean, I've heard from everybody here that you do great quality community programming, the evidence is there.
6594 But, by the same token, if I'm an IP TV customer, I shouldn't be deprived on something like that. Would you then make your programming available so it can also be seen on IP TV or vice versa?
6595 MR. ENGELHART: I think -- I wouldn't want you to regulate it, but I think that broadcasters do things like that. We -- TSN and Sportsnet are bitter rivals, but they did the Olympics together.
6596 So, you find broadcasters doing pooling arrangements, swapping arrangements, all this sort of thing because it makes sense and because it saves money.
6597 I think you would see some of that.
6598 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And then, lastly, you handed me this morning your document called Rogers TV Community Channel Assessment, which is obviously -- but you didn't talk to it in your presentation at all.
6599 And I gather this is filed with us and it will be available in our document centre. Would somebody for you like to, especially for the people on-line, explain what this document is.
6600 MS DINSMORE: That's a survey that was done for Rogers by Strategic Council in March which we released publicly last week.
6601 We'd be happy to file it with you.
6602 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, you have to for procedural fairness. So please file it for the other people.
6603 MS DINSMORE: Sure.
6604 THE CHAIRPERSON: So, it basically is a -- and who was it conducted by?
6605 MS DINSMORE: The Strategic Council, Chris Kelly did the actual survey.
6606 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Well, thank you very much.
6607 For once we're more or less engaged, in contrast to recent hearings, we had a very friendly meeting and, I must say, I was very impressed by what I've heard about you, both from the hearing and from your presentation today.
6608 So, thank you for coming.
6609 MS DINSMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6610 THE CHAIRPERSON: We'll take an hour and 15 minute break.
--- Upon recessing at 1211
--- Upon resuming at 1331
6611 THE SECRETARY: Please take your seats.
6612 LE PRÉSIDENT: Madame la secrétaire, commençons.
6613 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci. Nous entendrons maintenant la présentation de madame Josée Bouchard qui comparaît par vidéo-conférence du bureau de Montréal.
6614 Vous avez dix minutes pour votre présentation. Merci.
6615 Mme BOUCHARD: Bonjour, monsieur le président, chers membres qui vous accompagnent dans votre travail, bonjour.
6616 Alors, je vais y aller avec mon texte. D'emblée, je tiens à exprimer toute ma gratitude au CRTC d'accepter d'entendre mes commentaires dans le cadre de ces audiences.
6617 TV- COGECO fait partie de ma vie depuis mon arrivée dans la région du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, c'est-à-dire en 1986.
6618 TV-COGECO m'a d'abord permis de faire connaissance avec ma nouvelle communauté alors que je n'y connaissais personne. J'ignorais à cette époque jusqu'à quel point elle serait importante dans mon parcours personnel, voire professionel.
6619 En effet, mon intégration à la communauté jeannoise a connu sa concrétisation en 1994, lorsque j'ai été élue pour la première fois Commissaire de mon quartier. Occuper un poste d'élue, vous savez, à la Commission scolaire du Lac-Saint-Jean, c'est important et stimulant, compte tenu du grand nombre de services qu'elle dessert aux élèves jeunes et adultes et de son rôle socio-économique de premier plan.
6620 La Commission Scolaire compte parmi les plus gros employeurs du territoire et elle est au coeur de son développement par de nombreux partenariats.
6621 Lorsque j'ai été élue à la présidence de la Commission Scolaire, j'avais déjà à coeur de faire connaître à notre population les décisions du Conseil des commissaires ainsi que les collaborations et les projets porteurs de notre organisation.
6622 Il importe que les élus puissent rendre des comptes par divers moyens de communications. La télévision est un puissant moyen. J'ai tout de suite compris que TV-COGECO était un média privilégié dans ce contexte. J'ai communiqué avec la directrice générale et nous avons analysé différentes avenues.
6623 L'émission Zone Scolaire est née en 2003 et se poursuit toujours. J'y ai été à la barre jusqu'à l'été dernier. J'ai en effet été élue à la présidence de la Fédération des commissions scolaires du Québec et tout en demeurant commissaire, j'ai dû démissionner de la présidence de cette Commission scolaire. La nouvelle présidente poursuit donc le travail avec l'équipe de COGECO.
6624 Zone scolaire est une émission regardée par un grand nombre de téléspectateurs et la Commission scolaire en bénéficie depuis ses débuts. En fait, je devrais dire que la population est la plus grande gagnante parce qu'elle jouit d'une information directe et détaillée.
6625 Les citoyens connaissent définitivement mieux leur gouvernement local depuis la diffusion de l'émission et sont à même de constater que la vie scolaire est riche. L'émission présente des capsules «École en action» réalisées aussi par TV-COGECO en collaboration avec nos établissements.
6626 Je tiens à souligner, cette émission permet ce que les autres médias ne permettent pas; c'est-à-dire approfondir les dossiers d'actualités en éducation avec un animateur bien préparé, sans verser non plus dans la complaisance, bien sûr.
6627 Le professionnalisme de l'équipe a toujours été apprécié et ceci m'amène à mettre en relief l'importance de l'équipe d'encadrement local où qu'elle se trouve en province lorsque le réseau est présent.
6628 Je sais pertinemment que cette relation entre les groupes qui travaillent avec ce réseau constituent un gage de réussite de la télévisions communautaire. Par ailleurs, cela n'écarte pas le travail réalisé par des groupes communautaires autonomes qui ont besoin de la collaboration de diffuseurs comme TV-COGECO.
6629 Sachant que cette pratique se vit généralement bien au Québec, j'épouse tout de même le principe que la télévision communautaire comme elle est vécue à Alma et ses environs demeure un modèle optimal, en terme d'encadrement et d'efficacité, et surtout de constance dans la qualité du produit.
6630 Faire de la télévision exige certaines compétences et comme participants, nous désirons que la qualité des émissions qui nous mettent en scène soit intéressante pour le public qui les regarde.
6631 Il faut donc que des professionnels encadrent, supervisent le travail, pour s'assurer de mettre en ondes des émissions dont tout le monde est fier et je vous le réitère, c'est le cas de TV-COGECO.
6632 TV-COGECO se distingue des autres médias en ce sens qu'elle se veut le reflet de la communauté par son accessibilité. Elle propose un tour d'horizon très complet de ce qui se passe sur son territoire. L'actualité locale tant culturelle, sportive que politique est présentée sur ses ondes par des émissions telles que «Autrement Vu», «Boulevard», «Zoom», les «Rendez-vous sportifs» et le Conseil de Ville.
6633 Adoptant une approche à la fois informative et humaine, TV-COGECO prend le pouls des régions et est près de la communauté. Par conséquent, je me sens concernée puisque ma télévision locale s'intéresse à ce qui me touche directement.
6634 En plus de me tenir informée, elle m'offre également l'opportunité de m'exprimer et de m'impliquer puisque TV-COGECO donne la parole aux citoyens.
6635 En découle une pluralité de points de vue puisque chaque intervenant propose un angle de traitement différent aux divers sujets présentés.
6636 De par la diversité de sa programmation et son accessibilité, TV-COGECO s'adresse à tout le monde, elle s'applique avec rigueur à fournir un produit de qualité qui lui permet de rejoindre les téléspectateurs des différentes catégories d'âge qui peuvent parfois être moins bien servies par les grandes chaînes qui oeuvrent dans un créneau précis et qui ont des clientèles cibles bien définies.
6637 De plus, étant généralement situées dans les grands centres des régions qu'elles desservent, les télévisions généralistes ne s'attardent pas beaucoup aux petites villes avoisinantes.
6638 Dans le cas d'Alma, les médias prédominants couvrant ce territoire sont à Chicoutimi. Donc, l'information qu'elles diffusent provient principalement de cette agglomération.
6639 Comme elles ne produisent pas vraiment localement, les grandes chaînes télévisées exposent seulement en partie la réalité du Lac-Saint-Jean.
6640 Vous comprendrez donc que ma position relative à la possibilité de présenter de la publicité sur la chaîne communautaire ne représente même pas une option. Tant à titre de téléspectatrice qu'à celui d'élue scolaire, je considère que la publicité dénaturerait la télévision communautaire et, soyons clairs, cette dernière deviendrait une télévision à la recherche d'émissions populaires pour obtenir plus de revenus publicitaires et, ainsi, répondre à leurs besoins plutôt qu'à ceux de la communauté.
6641 La bonne collaboration entre TV-COGECO, les citoyens des communautés et des organismes comme celui que je représente s'est bâtie respectueusement au cours des ans.
6642 TV-COGECO est ancrée dans ces communautés. Elle a construit sa crédibilité. Son réseau de bénévoles fait évoluer la participation citoyenne petit à petit d'une année à l'autre. Il serait donc dommage que des changements apportés à la réglementation minent le dynamisme de notre télévision communautaire que nous nous sommes approprié et que nous avons développé ensemble au cours des ans.
6643 Le Québec perd de plus en plus ses lieux d'information régionale. Nous avons la responsabilité collective d'assurer l'accès à l'information locale et régionale. La télévision communautaire dans sa forme actuelle répond formidablement à ce besoin.
6644 Voilà, monsieur le président.
6645 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci pour votre présentation. C'est assez clair que vous êtes une grande enthousiaste de TV-COGECO.
6646 Mme BOUCHARD: Absolument.
6647 LE PRÉSIDENT: Dites-moi, dans votre région, on a sans doute des minorités anglophones. Est-ce qu'il y a des émissions anglophones sur TV-COGECO?
6648 Mme BOUCHARD: Non, parce que comme je vous disais, TV-COGECO chez nous est vraiment le reflet de la communauté. La communauté anglophone au Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean est de moins de un pour cent, je pense.
6649 Alors, je vais vous dire que nos anglophones, bien, ils sont très bien intégrés, ils parlent tous français, travaillent en français, vivent en français. Alors, c'est ça, c'est... la télévision répond donc à l'ensemble de la communauté francophone.
6650 LE PRÉSIDENT: Je n'ai pas réalisé que le nombre est si petit; un pour cent vous avez dit?
6651 Mme BOUCHARD: À peine.
6652 LE PRÉSIDENT: A peine, O.k.
6653 Mme BOUCHARD: À peine, oui.
6654 LE PRÉSIDENT: Mon collègue, Michel Morin, a des questions pour vous. Michel?
6655 CONSEILLER MORIN: Merci, monsieur le président.
6656 Une question: Vous évoquez la question de la publicité en disant que pour vous, ça ne devrait pas compromettre la télévision communautaire. Mais vous savez que la Fédération québécoise des télévisions communautaires autonomes réclame la publicité pour les canaux communautaires.
6657 Comment expliquez-vous votre position? C'est une position de principe pour vous? C'est une question de principe pour vous?
6658 Mme BOUCHARD: Oui, c'est une... bien, de principe et, écoutez, je suis ici, moi, comme téléspectatrice puis comme personne aussi qui a profité des services de COGECO.
6659 Mais, écoutez, pour moi c'est clair qu'une télévision qui a recours à la publicité va faire en sorte à un moment donné de répondre aussi aux besoins des gens, des commanditaires comme tels.
6660 On le sait que les commanditaires ont des exigences et pour moi, c'est important que, ça, ça ne soit pas compromis à travers le contenu de la télévision communautaire.
6661 Sans doute que... écoutez, je ne connais pas en détail, en fait, les besoins de la Fédération, là, des télévisions communautaires autonomes, mais c'est évident que c'est sûrement par un besoin immense de revenus, là, qu'ils se tournent vers cette solution-là.
6662 Moi, je pense qu'on a le devoir, en fait, de faire en sorte que, justement, les contenus ne soient pas compromis éventuellement et que tout le monde y trouve son compte.
6663 CONSEILLER MORIN: Merci beaucoup. Ce sont mes questions, monsieur le président.
6664 LE PRÉSIDENT: Michel Arpin?
6665 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Merci, monsieur le président.
6666 C'est vrai que la communauté anglophone du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean est petite. Elle est encore plus petite au Lac-Saint-Jean et comme COGECO n'est pas au Saguenay, mais les...
6667 Mme BOUCHARD: Voilà.
6668 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Cependant, il y a une communauté autochtone à Pointe-Bleue et qui porte un autre nom aujourd'hui, là, mais malheureusement, de mémoire, je ne me rappelle pas.
6669 Est-ce que, à votre connaissance, et ça, c'est dans le territoire de COGECO, je crois, Roberval?
6670 Mme BOUCHARD: Oui, oui.
6671 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Est-ce que, à votre connaissance TV-COGECO fait des choses avec la communauté... fait de la programmation avec les autochtones du Lac?
6672 Mme BOUCHARD: Écoutez, effectivement, je pense... oui. Je pense, effectivement, qu'ils ont une entente avec eux. Dans leur cas c'est une... je crois que c'est une télévision communautaire autonome et je sais qu'il y a un travail de collaboration, je dirais, qui est un modèle, là, en terme de partenariat et c'est ça qu'il est important, je pense, de retenir dans les relations avec les télévisions communautaires autonomes.
6673 Moi, je dis toujours que ce sont les individus qui font les organisations et, moi, en tout cas, ce dont j'ai entendu parler parce que c'est sûr que je ne suis pas une spécialiste en la matière, je ne travaille pas à TV-COGECO, mais il reste que je sais qu'il y a des ententes entre le diffuseur et les télévisions communautaires autonomes qui sont, en général, là, très, très bien. Ça se déroule bien et ça se fait donc dans un véritable partenariat, comme ça doit être.
6674 Alors, en tout cas, de ce que j'ai entendu, c'est le cas effectivement dans ce que vous me soumettez.
6675 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Maintenant, «Zone scolaire», maintenant, c'est une émission qui était présentée... qui est présentée à Alma ou au Lac-Saint-Jean ou à travers tout le Québec?
6676 Mme BOUCHARD: En fait, c'est une émission qui est présentée sur le territoire d'Alma et de ses environs, donc, ce qui est couvert par la télévision COGECO d'Alma. Donc, ça, ça veut dire aussi les municipalités environnantes de la MRC Lac-Saint-Jean Est.
6677 Alors, quand on diffuse cette émission-là, c'est tout le territoire de la Commission scolaire qui est visée, alors pour tous ceux qui sont branchés sur COGECO, et c'est un formidable moyen pour atteindre nos gens dans leurs foyers et on sait que c'est très bien écouté.
6678 La station, à un moment donné, a réalisé aussi un sondage auprès de la population pour vérifier ça. Le Conseil de Ville, le Conseil de la MRC et, dans notre cas, il y avait des problèmes techniques en fait de... vous savez, de nombre de caméras disponibles pour pouvoir filmer le Conseil des commissaires.
6679 C'est pour ça qu'on nous a offert une formule où on enregistre au lendemain du Conseil des commissaires pour pouvoir communiquer justement les décisions qui ont été prises par les élus scolaires.
6680 Alors, tout ça pour dire que ce qu'on a eu comme résultat au sondage, c'était fort encourageant et, moi, j'ai pu le vérifier et je vais vous dire que les gens se sont mis à nous reconnaître sur la rue, à s'intéresser plus en profondeur aussi aux questions scolaires.
6681 Et ça, bien, c'est merveilleux parce que c'est le but d'un élu de rendre des comptes à la population, eh! bien, par TV-COGECO on y arrive formidablement.
6682 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Est-ce que Dolbeau fait partie de la Commission scolaire d'Alma?
6683 Mme BOUCHARD: Non. C'est la Commission scolaire du pays des bleuets et je sais que dans leur cas aussi, il y a une télévision communautaire, mais... Et je crois que dans ce secteur-là ce n'est pas TV-COGECO, c'est Vidéotron qui couvre le territoire.
6684 CONSEILLER ARPIN: C'est parce que ma question était de savoir et c'est pour ça que je vous ai demandé si c'était dans le territoire de la Commission scolaire jeannoise et donc, ça ne l'est pas.
6685 Ma question aurait été de savoir: est-ce que Vidéotron présentait l'émission, mais comme ce n'est pas dans la même commission scolaire, ma question est sans pertinence. Mais maintenant que vous êtes...
6686 Mme BOUCHARD: Non.
6687 CONSEILLER ARPIN: ... à la Fédération des commissions scolaires, est-ce qu'une émission du même type pour peut-être l'ensemble du Québec serait quelque chose que vous pourriez envisager? Est-ce que vous avez déjà approché Vidéotron à cet égard?
6688 Mme BOUCHARD: Non, on n'a pas fait ça. Vous savez, à la Fédération on n'est pas en autorité sur les commissions scolaires, alors on préfère laisser, justement, localement cette initiative-là aux commissions scolaires. Alors, ils peuvent y aller, bon, de différentes façons.
6689 Mais ce que je peux vous dire, c'est que... et je suis tellement fière, moi, du produit que TV-COGECO Alma a développé autour de «Zone scolaire» justement, que ce serait un modèle, effectivement, exportable partout... partout au Québec ou au Canada même, parce qu'il y a des Conseils scolaires dans les milieux... dans les autres provinces aussi du Canada.
6690 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Alors, madame Bouchard, je vous remercie. C'était toutes mes questions.
6691 Mme BOUCHARD: Merci.
6692 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci. Je crois que ce sont toutes nos questions pour vous. Merci d'avoir participé dans notre processus.
6693 Madame la secrétaire.
6694 Mme BOUCHARD: Merci beaucoup.
6695 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci.
6696 We will now proceed with the presentations of the Neepawa Access Community Television with a period by video conference from Winnipeg and Valemount Entertainment Society who is appearing by video conference from Valemount, British Columbia.
6697 We will hear each presentation which will then be followed by questions.
6698 We will begin with the presentation of Neepawa Access Community Television. Please introduce yourself and you have ten minutes. Thank you.
6699 MR. TRAILL: My name is: I'm Traill, I am the General Manager of Neepawa Access Community Television in Neepawa, Manitoba, a role which I have filled since 1985.
6700 Before that, I was on the Board of Wesman Media Cooperative, from 1982 to 1990, and I was President of that cooperative for four years.
6701 I have seen Westman grow from a cable company of five communities to a system of 20 communities that it comprises today. That's 20 communities with access capability. They actually have about 40 different communities that they supply cable to.
6702 It has been a source of pride to be involved with the cable cooperative that is owned and operated by these communities, which has given us the flexibility and independence to develop not only community channels that we program ourselves, but also the cable infrastructure that is owned and operated by the people it serves.
6703 THE SECRETARY: I am sorry, sir, just wait --
6704 MR. TRAILL: In 1997 --
6705 THE SECRETARY: I am sorry, just one minute. We are hearing somebody else behind you and we are just going to arrange the problem. Just one second.
6706 THE SECRETARY: Perfect. You can continue. Thank you.
6707 MR. TRAILL: In 1997, the Neepawa Channel of which I have previously been one of the Wesman Cable only systems decided to apply for an over-the-air licence. About 80 per cent of rural TV viewers cannot get cable and so on over-the-air service is the only viable option.
6708 Our viewership went from a potential of 3,300 on cable to about 5,000 today with the low power licence that we have, which reaches the immediate town of Neepawa and the small communities of Eaton and Brookvale and Franklin and all the farms steds that are in between.
6709 Over the years, the channel has produced 105 celebrating seniors tapes, 65 heroes and heroines, that's veterans and war brides, as well as over 4,000 tapes and 1,600 DVDs which we keep as a record of our community.
6710 We recently -- I'm sorry -- we currently produce about 18 to 20 hours of new programming a week. Some of our program titles include "Coffee Chat", which is to bring new people into the community and have them known, news and views, that's obvious, most of the sporting activities of the town, alliance, TV bingo.
6711 We show all of the Town Council meetings, not just a 30 second clip that someone deemed to be controversial enough to put on the news. We make space available so that groups can put on educational programming. Church programs are shown in their entirety. In fact, I'm often criticized for turning up the camera off too soon because they want to see who was at church on Sunday.
6712 Eight churches in our town put services on, on a rotational basis. The Town Councilors speak directly to the camera when they want to get some ideas to get across to the people of the town because they know that it will be shown in its entirety and not edited.
6713 We do this on a budget of less than $100,000 a year and about 90 per cent of that we raise from selling DVDs.
6714 Over the last several years, I have witnessed a gradual closure of stations throughout Manitoba that are administered by Shaw, including Fortage, Altona, Morton, which are centres large enough to have their own community access television.
6715 Programming has been centralized in Winnipeg and the studios and cable offices in those towns have been either closed or sit idle and unstaffed. The situation is so bad that residents in some of these towns often come to us TV-Neepawa to ask us to take their events for them.
6716 For instance, the Annual Morton Base-ball Hall of Fame Inductions, we have been asked to do that for the last three years. Residents of these towns see programming produced in Winnipeg. There appears to be a small amount of programming done only in Thompson and Flin-Flan according to the Shaw Web site.
6717 The CRTC must take some responsibility for the demise of these channels. It seems to be that the fund that was set up to ensure the existence of community access channels has become a "from one pocket to the other" enterprise, where the groups who are contributing to the fund have, in fact, found a way to take the monies back out of it in the guise of community programming.
6718 In our view, community television needs to be clearly understood as access television. It is accessed by the community and the ability of its members to produce programming that sets it apart from local television produced by the public and private sectors.
6719 At present, we spend more than 50 per cent of our time raising funds to ensure that we can stay on the air. Many of the sporting events that we tape, I, myself, work about 40 to 50 hours a week -- I am supposed to be retired -- are not even aired on our channel. We just do them so that we can sell the DVDs and keep the channel running. We videoed 161 hockey games this winter.
6720 Unfortunately, this means that much of the time we have is going towards supporting programming formats that we might not otherwise do, instead of meeting the needs of the other parts of the community.
6721 This is not ideal, given that the channel is supposed to be an open access platform for the whole community.
6722 Because Neepawa has a population of only 3,500, a two or a five per cent cable levy would never be enough. Other small communities in Wesman group are surviving on even smaller budgets, some as low as $6,000 a year, based on their subscriber base. It's just enough to do a few repairs, buy some tapes and several are on the verge of closure.
6723 For this reason, we see value in the proposal put forward by the Canadian Association of Community Television users and stations for the National Community Access Media Fund to which any community may apply, no matter how small.
6724 We have reviewed the suggested budgets and the rural plan and it effectively uses the population base of larger centres to subsidize the channels in smaller communities. This plan would enable many of the smaller studios in Manitoba to stay open or to reopen.
6725 We also have two or three other volunteers in our community that work 20 to 30 hours per week and we have a total of 40 volunteers who do some programming for us. I have been able to keep the operation going until now, but I am getting older and both the community and I are concerned about the future of our channel.
6726 We need to be able to pay more staff.
6727 For rural community television to be viable, they must be allowed to broadcast with a reasonable power. For example, we can reach 5,000 people with our current low power water transmitter. With a full power transmitter, we could reach out to the surrounding community which includes about 17,000 people. The transmitter size should be determined by the community itself that is to be served.
6728 As a community, we also like knowing that with our own transmission facility and a cable system we own, that we are positioned to take advantage of new developments and respond to new challenges. For example, we are in a position to consider how we might be able to retransmit signals from the public and private sectors after the digital transmission, in case access to them free over-the-air is discontinued.
6729 We also are interested to see how mobile TV and wireless internet options evolve and how our community could benefit from them. We endorse and are an example of the multi platform model proposed by CACTUS. Our facility is a municipal building in down-town Neepawa, next to a community running a book store that helps raise money for the TV channel, a locally owned radio station shares the building and we have already begun collaborating in programming.
6730 This kind of sharing really helps our small community leverage the media that it does have. Many communities in rural Manitoba don't even have a newspaper, let alone a radio or TV channel.
6731 With the user friendly equipment that is now available, we should be in a much more favourable position to produce programming, instead of the adoption of new rules and regulations. I'm sorry -- instead, the adoption of new rules and regulations and exemption orders that enable cable companies not to carry our signals or not to have to contribute to our funding seems to be pushing us into the background.
6732 I'm very worried that when and if more channels quit producing community programming, that they will never start up again with the demise of newspapers in small communities, there is no media outlet to let these people know what's happening in their community or to get their viewpoints across.
6733 Regional newspapers or TV stations do not and never will take the place of locally produced and disseminated information. When I hear that a regional service will be classed as a community programming and have access to our subscribers' money, to make that programming, I get ill.
6734 I know what this means because I have seen several community stations disappear to be replaced by regional stations.
6735 This usually means that their local festival is taped and shown on the regional channel and the rest of the time it is bicycled programming from the largest centre in the area. Check it out. It usually means ten hours of local programming a year instead of ten hours a week -- no comparison.
6736 If the CRTC in its wisdom does not ensure that community access channels are given the chance to continue and thrive, it will have missed the whole reason for their existence. To ensure that Canadian content is generated under all the mandates, public, private and community, let's ensure that we don't end up in ten years with as one of my seniors said to me one day: I have 500 channels of nothing to watch on our cable and satellite systems.
6737 Enough money is being set aside annually at present to ensure that the access channels across Canada could be maintained and healthy if it was only directed properly. Local community access channels are worth saving.
6738 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
6739 THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much for your presentation.
6740 THE SECRETARY: Mr. President, we have another presenter.
6741 We will now hear the presentation of Valemount Entertainment Society. Perfect. Please introduce yourself and you have ten minutes for your presentation.
6742 MR. McCRACKEN: Thank you very much. I'll go very quickly. Commissioners, are you ready?
6743 My name is Andru McCracken and I am the station manager for V.C. TV. Besides me is John Grogen, the former station Manager of V.C.TV. He did a lot of the start-up work.
6744 I am going to begin today with showing some of the work that we do on Valemount Community Television. Just please stand by for that.
--- Video presentation
6745 MR. McCRACKEN: Great. Thanks for watching.
6746 So, we're Valemount Community Television, you may have heard of us. Valemount is a remote community of roughly 1,000 people. On the whole, Valemountonians are grounded, resourceful, community oriented and extremely intelligent.
6747 In the 80s when the television universe was expanding, the business case for cable did not exist in our community, so people got together and they started re-broadcasting satellite signals over the air.
6748 Over time the service developed and people began paying a small amount of their property taxes to fund the enterprise. In 1987 the Valemount Entertainment Society was born.
6749 With their expertise in broadcasting, the community decided they had the tools they needed to run a community channel. The Valemount Community Television began broadcasting in 1991.
6750 Let me tell you all about it. Over the years there's been some epic television produced at VCTV, some of the best programming was crafted during the early years with the help of John Grogan who's with me here today.
6751 We re-broadcast basically anything of relevance to our community. The most important piece we produce is called "Valemount Live". This 30-minute spectacle features footage and commentary compiled during the previous week.
6752 One of the greatest successes of "Valemount Live" belongs to 10-year-old foreign correspondent Zachary Schneider. He produces a foreign correspondent segment each week. He started volunteering at the age of seven, he announced birthdays for some time, later he was promoted to foreign correspondent.
6753 Zachary's amazing and has an amazing handle on the technology. He sets up the studio and edits his own segment. Zachary also runs the mixer during "Valemount Live", the audio mixer.
6754 Let's talk about it. "Valemount Live" is a watering hole where issues are discussed, debated in pillory and our viewership is surprisingly broad. At public events our shows' anchors are often accosted and complimented for their work.
6755 So, you're asking, how can we afford to run such an amazing channel? Advertising can't support it, not here, we're too small.
6756 The Valemount Entertainment Society receives about $73,000 per year from the regional district. Landowners pay about $3 per month per $100,000 of assessment. This money covers the provision of seven television stations and three radio stations. Approximately half of the $73,000 budget is used to generate local community TV.
6757 Many people beyond our bounds inquire about our service, they say that the other option, satellite, is too much and too expensive.
6758 Remember, you're as likely to find Valemountonians scaling a mountain or cycling across the Rockies as watching somebody else do it on television.
6759 Our Society also happens to provide an emergency radio service.
6760 The future of community television. I want to talk about that for a moment. We see the transition to digital as an advantage. The running costs and maintenance will be substantially less than with our current analog gear. We hope to have our first digital transmitter up and running by late fall.
6761 The CBC is the only service around here not provided by us. If they discontinue their service as they have threatened, we are well suited -- well positioned to add them to our line-up.
6762 Every episode -- I want to talk about new media for a second here. Every episode of "Valemount Live" is archived on the Internet. It's excellent for people who don't tune in on time or who live too far away.
6763 But recently cart.ca posted an article and they asked if Facebook or YouTube isn't the new community television. Whole heartedly I can tell you it's not.
6764 Communities are bound together by geography and it should be the principal goal of broadcasters to help us understand each other, to foster common ground and the common goals meets inside of that geography.
6765 Of the three branches of television defined in the Broadcasting Act, I think that community television is the one most suited to do this.
6766 The Internet can be thought of as a tremendous support system that will allow community television to reach its full potential.
6767 Media literacy. I'm a former newspaper founder and editor. I can tell you that television is harder to produce than print. Without equivocation, there's much more that goes into a broadcast, technically and anesthetically than an issue of a newspaper, no offence intended.
6768 I can see Peter Menzies on my screen here.
6769 Broadcast television takes capital, it takes technical knowledge, many skilled hands, a warm, dry studio and expensive cameras, powerful lights. Not only that, it also takes vision, passion and dogged determination.
6770 Television is so tough that without having open access right to the studio floor Canadians will not make community television. I think we've seen that.
6771 This policy hearing is really important. Are we going to be participants in our communities in Canada, in the world, or just spectators? Most Canadians can't string together a coherent narrative in television, but you've never heard of a school where children were only taught to read. Writing is a part of being literate and it's the same with television.
6772 Television production isn't a novel skill, it's the key to decoding and understanding the messages being sent to us from advertisers and producers.
6773 Hers's an example. At VCTV we produce a segment called "Hour of Doom", you may have seen a short clip. It was about how during a very dry year Valemount could be burnt to a crisp because of our geography, the prevalent winds and the type of forests that we have.
6774 Apart from the obvious message, we also tried to show how news organizations can actually debilitate the viewer, prevent them from taking action.
6775 We are the proof of concepts. Valemount Community Television achieves the objectives that the CRTC have set out in the 2002 Community TV Framework.
6776 You see a diversity of voices here and local reflection. When community television has stable funding, a non-profit board and a clear mandate to serve the community, you achieve the diversity and local reflection.
6777 We need more Canadians making television. In Valemount we've got more than one percent making television, more than 10 people that is.
6778 In Valemount, our ability to express ourselves is a direct result of owning our own broadcast infrastructure.
6779 So, you guys are all wondering, okay, does every community need to go out and buy its own broadcast infrastructure? Of course not.
6780 The essential ingredients can be implemented easily, all you need is a non-profit board of directors, again, stable funding so you can employ people and try to get other grants with the funding that you have and a mandate to serve the community again.
6781 I want to say that CACTUS has a really good idea. We support them. Michel Morin has presented what we think could be a really good idea and I'd really like to discuss either with you.
6782 I think that if you give Canadians real access you'll give Canadians a fabulous community TV.
6783 Thanks so much.
6784 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you for two interesting presentations.
6785 First of all, Mr. Traill, if I understand it, Neepawa has 3,500 inhabitants; is that correct?
6786 MR. TRAILL: Yes.
6787 THE CHAIRPERSON: And yet you say that -- and you're being serviced obviously by Westman and Westman is your local cable company?
6788 MR. TRAILL: It is, yes.
6789 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you say that Portage, Altona and Morton, which are much larger and which have enough to offer community access television have actually been closed by Shaw and there's no more community channel in Portage?
6790 MR. TRAILL: That's true. At least, I can't get a hold of anybody there. I phone them quite regularly because we used to trade junior A hockey games because they used to do the hockey game from Portage. We have a junior A team, and we would send them our game and they would send us theirs and we would put them on our local channels.
6791 I can't get a hold of anybody there and they say that Shaw's closed down the studio. So, that's as far as I can figure out. I can't get anybody at all and I can't find any programming from Portage.
6792 And certainly, as far as Morton is concerned, and that's 200 miles away from us.
6793 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
6794 MR. TRAILL: They've been on my back for the last three years to go down and do their inductions into the Hall of Fame.
6795 So, they don't -- they've lost their local channel as well.
6796 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm just wondering, the community channel that Shaw offers in those cities, Portage, Altona and Morton, what it actually shows?
6797 If I understand you correct, it's re-cycled Winnipeg stuff?
6798 MR. TRAILL: Yes, mostly it's -- I don't know. There's -- somebody said that in Morton they go out and do the festivals and so on and that's about it, that they have one or two programs a year that pertain to those communities and the rest of the time it's Winnipeg -- re-cycled programs from Winnipeg.
6799 THE CHAIRPERSON: I see. Okay.
6800 And, Valemount, you say you're proof of concept and you say:
"When a community's television station has stable funding, a non-profit board and a clear mandate to serve, you achieve the diversity of local reflection and vision under the Broadcasting Act." (As read)
6801 THE CHAIRPERSON: Explain to me, where does your stable funding come from?
6802 MR. McCRACKEN: Right. Because we actually -- the Society that runs the Valemount Community Television is actually a Society that also broadcasts seven local stations and three radio stations.
6803 Our stable funding comes from taxes raised. Back around, I'm going to say '87, we had a referendum locally to say, you know, cable is not coming here, they can't make a business case of it, does the community want to chip in and in fact pay for broadcast community television.
6804 They said yes, and that's why we have this natural outgrowth of community television and that's where we get our stable funding from.
6805 THE CHAIRPERSON: I just looked you up while you were talking on the computer where Valemount actually is and, indeed, you're very far in the interior of B.C. et cetera.
6806 But I can understand why the community there, if there's no cable, opted for local over-the-air, but do you think the same concept would apply in less remote communities?
6807 I mean, it's quite --
6808 MR. McCRACKEN: No. Really, what I'm trying to say --
6809 THE CHAIRPERSON: Go ahead.
6810 MR. McCRACKEN: Really, what I'm trying to say in my presentation is that the very essence of the success of our community TV station is that we have stable funding and we have a non-profit board and we have -- that non-profit board gives us a very clear mandate to serve the community and they keep us accountable and they help guide us, you know, members of the community doing this.
6811 And I think that that's where the success comes from it, right. So, I think, of course, you know, there's all manner of places where the funding can come from.
6812 It could come from the two percent coming from the BDUs, it could come from some other level of government, it could come -- but the key is, stable funding.
6813 And I think CACTUS has given a very considered discussion about where this money should come from. They're saying community groups like mine should be able to get funding from the BDU contribution.
6814 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6815 Michel, you have some --
6816 MR. TRAILL: May I comment?
6817 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, please.
6818 MR. TRAILL: In our service area of about 17,000 people only about between four and 5,000 can in fact get cable. So, most of them are serviced by satellite and satellite does not even supply, in many cases, the local CBC programming.
6819 They get Vancouver and Toronto CBC programs. They don't even get any off-air local programmings on the satellite channel.
6820 So, out of the 17,000 people that we service from our community, we have a fairly large community, but mostly it's farmsteads and so on, of the 17,000, only about 5,000 can in fact get cable, the rest are serviced by satellite.
6821 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. But I don't understand what you just said. I'm a satellite customer, so --
6822 MR. TRAILL: Well, I'm just saying, you were talking about --
6823 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let me finish. I get Winnipeg --
6824 MR. TRAILL: Sorry.
6825 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- I get Winnipeg on satellite TV here in Ottawa, why would you not get it in Neepawa?
6826 MR. TRAILL: I have no idea.
6827 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6830 MR. McCRACKEN: Could I answer that question again? I'd like to change my answer.
6831 THE CHAIRPERSON: By all means, go ahead.
6832 MR. McCRACKEN: You asked me if I think this is a good model and, you know, I have to say, I don't have encyclopedic knowledge of what's happening in the Canadian broadcasting industry but, you know, maybe our model is the right model.
6833 You know, if OTA broadcasters are pulling up their transmitters like CBC is here, maybe it's time that Canadians realize how cost effective it can be to do this thing themselves.
6834 Maybe what we need to see is people in Neepawa set up their own over-the-air broadcasters, start re-broadcasting a whack of stations, provide good service for an incredibly low price. For instance, I pay about $40 a year for my whole television service and I get a lot for that, and I just want to straggle this community television station.
6835 So, yeah, okay, you know what, if this is where you're going, I think maybe we can talk about this, Commissioner. Let's think about -- let's see how we can start over-the-air broadcasting in other communities.
6836 HE CHAIRPERSON: But, you know, there's nothing stopping Neepawa from doing that right now, absolutely nothing, that's why --
6837 MR. McCRACKEN: Well, there's one big difference.
6838 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. What you have is pretty unique, you have a local tax base and because of your remote locations, I gather, residents of Valemount feel it is worthwhile paying for local TV.
6839 That's not necessarily the case everywhere else.
6840 MR. McCRACKEN: Go ahead, Ivan.
6841 MR. TRAILL: Well, I was just going to say, he said we can do it if we want to, but our low power licence does not allow us to go any distance out of town. We cannot include many of this 17,000, we can only include about 5,000 which is the immediate area around Neepawa.
6842 We can't get out to the community because the low power licence doesn't allow us to transmit any distance.
6843 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but you could apply for another licence.
6844 MR. McCRACKEN: And here's another difference. Here's another difference.
6845 You have -- in this instance, if somebody wanted to take the Valemount model and apply it to their community, then they need to compete with cable. You know, that doesn't make any sense at all, I have to say.
6846 So, you know, you generate this whole other system so that, you know, residents can have good television and have access and then they have to do it at the same time beating back cable.
6847 Those companies are already collecting money to fund community television. So, I can't speak for them but, you know, maybe they want to be double charged, maybe they want to go that route.
6848 I just don't think it makes sense.
6849 So, I think it would be a lot tougher for Ivan to do that because there is some service, maybe not great service, but there's some service already.
6850 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel?
6851 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Well, you've covered a lot of ground of the questions that I have by answering to the CRTC Chair questions and adding.
6852 However, I think in order to really understand, I spent some time yesterday perusing on your website and watching the TV program that you have through the Internet and I may have drawn some wrong conclusion, particularly regarding Valemount.
6853 I spent some time and I did watch your episode 28 that is currently on your website, but since I was unable to find a program grid or anything other than that piece, I was wondering, are you producing only one program a week and re-running it over and over again?
6854 I'm talking to Valemount.
6855 MR. McCRACKEN: Yes. That's absolutely a great question. We also do Council, we also do plays and other things at work.
6856 So, let me just describe for you my situation. I am the only employee of this station and, so, by doing this admittedly resource intensive but fun filled show, we're able to cover off a lot of community programs in a short time.
6857 Hey, I don't want to defend it, I want to pitch it to you. "Valemount Live" is a fun way of getting the community together, it's different than previous people have chosen to do, but as the station manager I have support from my board to do that, that's what I'm choosing to do.
6858 We spend a lot of time, a lot of our energy goes into making that show, but we feel, you know, we feel right now that's the right way to do it.
6859 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: The hour I spent watching it, obviously it's a YouTube segment what I had the opportunity to see, so I figure out it was about an hour.
6860 It's a very good magazine, very well produced and covers the whole city life of Valemount for that given week.
6861 But are you broadcasting every day or are you only City Council, once a month?
6862 MR. McCRACKEN: Absolutely.
6863 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: I guess.
6864 MR. McCRACKEN: City Council is twice a month. What happens is, we show that -- the week following Council we show it every night at the same time.
6865 So, our programming grid has a lot -- I would say it has a lot of horizontal bars in it, yeah.
6866 We're experiencing in some sense, in recent times sort of a renaissance of community TV. We want to make sure that the content we work so hard to produce is there as soon as people turn on their TV, we want to make sure we're there.
6867 It's not just ongoing repeating or scrolling or anything like that, it comes on set times. We advertise those times. It comes on -- "Valemount Live" comes at one o'clock, at seven o'clock and at midnight, so after people watch Stephen Colbert, they can see our production.
6868 But -- I forgot where I was going with that. But thank you for asking. Thank you for watching.
6869 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: While I was on your website, I know that you're calling yourself VCM Valemount 7 and VCTV, but I note that on your web page that you also carry the logos of TSN, Global, CFRN, Knowledge, CBC Television, YTV, Discovery, Civilization, Radio One, Radio Two, classic rock, CISN.
6870 Are you offer -- because I heard you that you're paying about $40 a year. Is that $40 a year to receive a scrambled signal of these TV stations that you are re-broadcasting?
6871 MR. McCRACKEN: Commissioner Arpin, this deal will only last for one year, so I suggest you move to Valemount and get that deal right away.
6872 That's true. For $40, just $40 I can give you all of those stations plus our comedy factory as well, yes.
6873 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Now, I was a bit disappointed when I went to the Valemount business on-line where they have a section that is called News and Local Media and they're not talking about you, they talk about the Valley Sentinel, they talk about the former Robson Valley Times, but there is no mention of VCTV.
6874 Any given reason?
6875 MR. McCRACKEN: Just a brief reflection on that, and I think this will help us connect with you folks, with the Commissioners.
6876 What that is, is a lot of times small communities like us are very good at getting grants, you see, we're very good at getting resources to develop a website, to start a community television station, to get a camera. We have some very expensive video switching equipment with us today. We can get those grants, but what communities have a very hard time doing is maintaining staff and keeping that stable funding.
6877 And, so, what we have is somebody's developed that website, but they don't have the tools to keep that updated.
6878 So, this is really -- I have to tell you, this is part of village life and if you sample villages across Canada you'll get the sense.
6879 MR. GROGAN: Community is central in a small community such as our own.
6880 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Mr. Traill, in --
6881 MR. TRAILL: Yes.
6882 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: -- perusing your website and perusing also Westman website, I noticed that nowhere Westman is -- are you carried on cable?
6883 MR. TRAILL: Yes.
6884 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: You are? Because your website says that you're on Channel 30, but the Westman --
6885 MR. TRAILL: Cable 12.
6886 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Cable 12, you're over-the-air on --
6887 MR. TRAILL: Cable 12 and Channel 30, yes.
6888 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And Channel 30, that's your over-the-air and Cable 12. However, Westman for Neepawa doesn't mention that they're carrying your service.
6889 Do you know why?
6890 MR. TRAILL: No idea. No idea. Do they name the other 19 communities?
6891 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Oh, they name all the communities --
6892 MR. TRAILL: Yeah.
6893 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: -- they are providing service, but they don't necessarily mention the community channel. They don't mention any community channel whatsoever.
6894 MR. TRAILL: Well, they have community channels in 19 communities.
6895 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: So, they don't mention them, they only mention the over-the-air, the specialty services, the pay services, the U.S. services and whatsoever, they have a long list, but they don't mention --
6896 MR. TRAILL: Does that tell you something?
6897 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Mr. Traill --
6898 MR. TRAILL: Yes.
6899 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: -- what is forbidding you to seek for an increase in power in order to cover the whole community that you want to serve?
6900 MR. TRAILL: Money. It would cost us about $25,000 to buy a new transmitter, it would cost us about $20,000 to get the licence because we would have to get an aeronautical engineer, et cetera, et cetera.
6901 We don't have that kind of money. As I've told you in the presentation, we spend 50 percent of our time and I put in 50 hours a week of volunteer time, you have to remember that.
6902 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: I heard you, and I heard you very well, but both your written and your oral presentation didn't tie it up to money, it tied -- so, I appreciate the money factor and I couldn't really -- but I think it was a good idea to be more specific about the main reason why you have some problems.
6903 I note in looking at your coverage area that you are, at least the theoretical contour includes some other communities.
6904 Are you doing programming in those smaller communities?
6905 MR. TRAILL: Oh, yes, all the time. Like, we do the small festivals, we do -- any time there's -- one thing you have to -- or at least one of the ways that we look at community is the community that we're serving.
6906 In other words, if it's a regional health authority program that we're doing, then it serves the whole of Westman and we make -- if we go out and do a DVD on that ARHA presentation to the community, we make it available to the other 19 communities.
6907 But there's a lot of them are very, very local. Like Arden is a community of 80 people. We go out and do their crocus festival, we do several programs a year from that one little community and we always do their drama nights, they have two or three drama nights a year and presentations.
6908 Yes, we go out to the small communities and do whatever we can.
6909 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Now, you said in your oral presentation that you're financing your operation through the sale of DVD.
6910 Is it DVDs that you're producing or you're a re-seller of DVD?
6911 MR. TRAILL: No, no, ones that we produce.
6912 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: The ones you produce and people who want to have a copy of it they could buy and that helps --
6913 MR. TRAILL: Right.
6914 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: -- finance your operation.
6915 MR. TRAILL: Okay. Let me give you an example. One weekend we will do say 20 hockey games in one weekend, Friday night, Saturday, Sunday and we have those hockey games for sale 15 minutes after the hockey game is over. The parents come in there and buy them one after the other.
6916 We could never show 20 programs -- 20 hockey games on our TV channel, we probably show four of them that pertain to the local people, but the other 16 programs were produced entirely to sell, to make money and, because we're all volunteers, we can turn over, you know, anywhere from 1,200 to $1,500 a weekend by selling these programs.
6917 We also do -- like any of our other programs are for sale as well, but it's programs like that where we make our money.
6918 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And I noted and you address it in your oral presentation that you have quite an expanded program grid and the one that I --
6919 MR. TRAILL: Yeah, we're on --
6920 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: -- saw on your website covers a lot of -- how many hours a week are you producing?
6921 MR. TRAILL: About -- anywhere between 10 and 12 hours a day, 12, 13 hours a day.
6922 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And how many volun -- because you're saying that you have about 40 volunteers, but they are mainly occupied doing -- writing program logs and soliciting funding, so who is doing the programming, yourself?
6923 MR. TRAILL: I do a lot of it. No, we have about -- we have about -- like, for instance, in the churches, they do their own, each week they do their own church service.
6924 We have about seven people that are involved in the junior A hockey games on a regular basis. We have people that run the bingos, we have people that do the news and views.
6925 We have about eight people who do the camera work in the community on a regular basis, that doesn't include the specific things, as I say, some of our volunteers do one program every -- in two weeks only, where some do six programs a week, like myself.
6926 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Well, I think you deserve, first, you deserve for a strong congratulation on one hand and I'm sure that you're a great motivator making sure that these people all come back, unless you keep them in your basement and make sure that they don't get out.
6927 MR. TRAILL: We've thought about that. Yes, we've thought about that.
6928 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Well, thank you very much, gentlemen. Those were my questions.
6929 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you very much --
6930 MR. TRAILL: Thank you.
6931 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- for a very interesting presentation from both of you.
6932 I think we'll take a five-minute break, Madam, before we have the next intervener.
6933 Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1432
--- Upon resuming at 1439
6934 LE PRÉSIDENT : Commençons, Madame.
6935 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed with the presentations of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa and the Ottawa Slovak Community. We will hear each presentation, which will then be followed by questions.
6936 We will begin with the presentation of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa. Please introduce yourself and you have 10 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
6937 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: Good afternoon.
6938 THE SECRETARY: Just open your microphone.
6939 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: Good afternoon and kali mera. My name is Pinelopi Makradimitris and I am the President of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa.
6940 I was supposed to be here today with our spiritual leader Father Alex Michalopulos but he was called to an emergency and was unable to attend. So it is just me today.
6941 The purpose of our community being present at this hearing today is to speak briefly about the impact of community television on our community and the valuable role that community television plays in broadcasting the events of our community and in connecting our community members with one another and with the greater Ottawa community.
6942 Briefly about our community. The Hellenic Community of Ottawa was formally founded in 1929. Last year we celebrated our 80th Anniversary and now we are well into our 81st year. There is only one Greek community in the Ottawa region and our community caters to approximately 10,000 Greeks and individuals who are of Greek descent.
6943 In terms of facilities, we have a community centre and a reception centre on Prince of Wales Drive and we have our church in the same location. Now, our community, although it is small in size in comparison to some other Greek communities in Canada, is a very active community. We host many events and sponsor many events during the year. Some of the events are geared towards our members and some of the events are geared to include participation from our friends in the greater Ottawa community.
6944 Most of our events are covered through local programming. Be it our Independence Day celebration, our annual Greek Festival, our annual Hike for CHEO or one of the many interesting lectures that we sponsor relating to our culture and our faith are covered by Rogers Television in Ottawa through the "Hellenic Kaleidoscope" program. This program is conducted in both Greek and English and is an important vehicle through which the news of our community is broadcast and communicated on a monthly basis.
6945 From feedback that we regularly receive from our members, our members look forward to watching the "Hellenic Kaleidoscope" program so as to keep apprised of events that have taken place and to become aware of other events that are being planned or scheduled.
6946 Just by way of example, last year our community choir had the privilege of performing for the Governor General of Canada in anticipation of her State Visit to Greece to receive the Olympic Flame. Obviously it was a by invitation only event and many of our community members could not attend, but "Hellenic Kaleidoscope" programming was available. They covered the event and people could see our choir singing for the Governor General and participate and appreciate the event, albeit from a little bit of a distance.
6947 Last year we also had the visit from the Ambassador of Canada to Greece. She came to our community. Not everybody was able to attend. Her lecture was covered by "Hellenic Kaleidoscope" and many of our community members could participate in listening to her speech to us.
6948 One suggestion about the program that we often hear is that it is just not aired enough, that it would be nice to have more opportunities to hear and to view the "Hellenic Kaleidoscope" programs.
6949 Our community in general believes in local television and that local television matters. We believe that local television and community television provide our community members with an opportunity to volunteer and provide opportunities for our community members and area citizens to participate in community programming.
6950 We use community television to help recruit for our events, for example, our Greek Festival and many of our citizens and individuals also participate in community television by helping create the actual "Hellenic Kaleidoscope" program.
6951 Whenever "Hellenic Kaleidoscope" does a program and it covers our events, it has the residual effect of also supporting local charities because our community is very active and there are very few things that we do that we don't extend ourselves outside of the community.
6952 For example, our Greek Festival every year is meant to share our culture and our dancing and our food with the greater Ottawa community, but in raising funds to support ourselves, we also raise funds for local charities like CHEO, like the Ottawa Heart Institute and like the Ottawa Food Bank, and when we have local television supporting our events, it also supports the greater Ottawa community charities.
6953 Another example, briefly, is our Hike for CHEO. That is an event that is organized 100 percent by our community. We are in our 19th year of hosting that event. The purpose of that event is to raise money and awareness for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and for the Children's Hospital to be able to purchase a specific piece of equipment that it is lacking.
6954 When the participants during the Hike for CHEO see the local television crew there, they get very excited, and when people view the "Hellenic Kaleidoscope" program and they see how happy people are to participate and to get involved, it encourages volunteers for the future years and for other events that are hosted by our community.
6955 For those reasons and for many others, our community wholeheartedly believes that local television is a resource that should be protected and that should be supported.
6956 Thank you for listening to us.
6957 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
6958 We will now hear the presentation of the Ottawa Slovak Community. Please introduce yourself and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
6959 MR. FAJKOR: Thank you.
6960 My name in Slovak would be Jan Juri Fajkor, which you could John George Fajkor. I am a former journalist and a former professor of Journalism at Carleton University.
6961 The delegation we have chosen is to indicate that our multicultural group is not a bunch of immigrants. I happen to have been born in Canada three-quarters of a century ago and most of the people here -- Mary Ann Doucette, to my right, is the President of the Canadian Slovak League, despite a name like Mary Ann Doucette, which indicates that she doesn't necessarily marry into the Slovak community even though she is President of the Canadian Slovak League.
6962 Next to me is Mark Stolarik, who is the head of the Chair of Slovak History and Culture at the University of Ottawa, who is himself a historian and who was President of the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. So he knows how the Americans treat multiculturalism, which means they do not, compared to us.
6963 On my far right is Jozef Malecek, who is an economist by education but a professional videographer here in Canada and an immigrant from Slovakia, of course. He does paid work, of course, in videography for any television organization that will pay him, and also because he is involved in the Slovak Community he works for nothing for us on our "Slovak Spectrum" program.
6964 Beside me is Anne Ladouceur, who, again, with a name like Anne Ladouceur, indicates that she is a true Canadian, although she is an immigrant from Slovakia and she is now the Community Producer of our "Slovak Spectrum" television program.
6965 We chose a delegation which not only would reflect the gender balance in our community but the fact that whether you are an immigrant from Slovakia who came here a few years ago or whether you were born here many, many, many years ago, the ethnocultural community continues to exist, will continue to exist and is considered part of the heritage of Canada.
6966 We hope that Canada will be a country that promotes multicultural heritage. In fact, the whole point of our presentation will not just be what is community program but be one particular type of community program in which we are interested, and that is multiculturalism programming.
6967 We believe, according to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that -- the Charter itself says we should be -- Article 27 says that:
"This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians."
6968 Which we think applies to cable companies and television stations and the Web and everybody else, and we do feel that the CRTC has much more important role than it thinks it has.
6969 There is nothing in the Constitution that says that the coverage of local Pee-wee hockey is important to the Canadian heritage or that covering high school football is important to the heritage of Canada, but multicultural broadcasting is and multicultural broadcasting must remain so and funding has to be found for it.
6970 The two main problems that we have, in our submission, are production and distribution, and the main money-draining problem is production. Distribution is getting cheaper over the long run, what with the new media and the internet and so on.
6971 But professional production, good programs interesting to our community and telling the world about our community cost money and it will be one of the things, I believe, that this Commission is going to have to decide, how to finance multicultural programming, because multicultural programming is going to be the one area of community programming which I think is the most important for the eyes of Canada and the world and certainly to us.
6972 Discussing multiculturalism as it is now practised, we have -- how long ago was it when "Slovak Spectrum" was founded?
6973 DR. STOLARIK: 1978.
6974 MR. FAJKOR: 1978. Well, we have existed for 30 years, broadcasting once a month, half an hour on Rogers. We must express our gratitude to Rogers because they have trained our people, they have helped our people, they have gone out of their way to do things for us that nobody else does. The local television stations don't. If you can name any multicultural program on CJOH or CBC or almost any local station anywhere in Canada, let me know.
6975 In most cases, it has to be done either by the cable companies through things such as the Kaleidoscopic programming -- that is 23 ethnocultural groups that Rogers TV supports -- or it is done on a commercial basis. When a community is large enough and has enough money, they can probably put together their own program or through a radio station that will broadcast ethnocultural radio or TV as in OMNI in Toronto that will broadcast ethnocultural TV.
6976 But money is the important issue in production and that is the one thing that we feel that the CRTC is going to have to find a way to support. Don't just worry about Canadian programming, community programming, worry about the multicultural component of it, which is what Canada is all about.
6977 When we were talking about being grateful for Rogers, we think that Rogers' model here in Ottawa at least is one that maybe should be imposed on every cable company in Canada. I think it happens to work. We are happy with it. They don't seem to be unhappy with us. After all, we have existed 30 years. There must be somebody out there watching us. And they must be happy with us at Rogers or they would have kicked us out a long time ago.
6978 I think that that kind of model is something that the CRTC probably should consider. And I also think that the commercial model when a community is large enough is also worth considering. I have nothing against it at all. If we had 15,000 or 18,000 people here in our community in Ottawa, many of them rich, we hope, they would probably support some kind of a television program that we could put on the air and make some money out of the advertising as well as perhaps contribute some of the subscription money to Rogers Cable.
6979 Rogers has trained a lot of our people in really, really good work. Mr. Malecek can speak about that since some of his video productions do appear on that. But we think it is important that the CRTC consider the entire cultural heritage of Canada as part of its job in this particular case.
6980 Once upon a time in my early days in journalism I worked for the CBC International service, which broadcast many programs in many languages over short-wave to many parts of the world. We don't do that anymore. Why it happened, I have no idea but Canada has given up on that.
6981 But it would seem to me that with the world coming closer and closer together through the internet, there isn't any reason why the multicultural programming now being produced in Canada couldn't also be put together and broadcast around the world, as it perhaps should be and perhaps there is some way you can make money out of that as well. We could go back to what used to be an international service if we promote multicultural programming here.
6982 Our multicultural groups in Canada are Canadian. We talk about what Canadians of Slovak origin do here. We are, of course, interested in what Canadians of Slovak origin are doing in Argentina where there is a large group, Australia where there is another large group, and the United States where there is a really large group.
6983 And quite obviously, when you have somebody like Jaroslav Halak in Montreal, who is a fine Slovak boy, he is of interest to us and I think he is of interest not only to Slovaks in Australia, Argentina and England but also in Slovakia, as well as in Pittsburgh at the moment.
6984 MR. FRAJKOR: But we do contribute, I think, considerably more to the Canadian heritage than just hockey players and it is something that I believe the CRTC must consider, not just its role in whether or not television will be available in small communities across Canada but whether the Canadian type of television, the Canadian heritage, which includes multiculturalism, exists and is seen all over the world, which is what is coming.
6985 Distribution is becoming less of a problem. At the moment, our distribution for our program is clearly local because that is the way cable companies are organized. They are organized on a regional basis. I disagreed with what one of the previous people said, that people are bound by geographical region.
6986 Here in the Ottawa area, for example, many of our Slovak people live over in Gatineau, in Hull, and our cable program here in Ottawa on Rogers Cable is not available to them because that is a French area basically. This is an English area basically, Canada being a bilingual country. We accept that.
6987 But there is no reason to me why the "Slovak Spectrum" program produced here, which concerns people -- for example, one of our programs a month ago had an interview with Adam Janosik, who is a Slovak player for the Hull Olympiques, and why should he not be seen in his own area, which is Hull, because he is being interviewed by "Slovak Spectrum" here in Ottawa. We are bound together as a community by our culture, not just by our geography.
6988 That is really the important thing we have to say. I think we want to -- we are not going to talk much about what our Slovak community has done in Canada and what we are for because I think that is fairly obvious.
6989 What we want to do is stick to the point, which is that multiculturalism is an important part of Canada constitutionally and realistically will become a very important part in the world.
6990 I would rather see Canadian programs, Canadian multicultural programs, the image of Canada broadcast around the world via satellite, rather than have some country like China decide that it is going to broadcast via satellite into Canada using the Slovak language and saying it speaks for us. We have to speak for ourselves. Thank you.
6991 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your presentations.
6992 Ms Makrodimitris, you mentioned that in your community people who want to watch the "Hellenic Kaleidoscope" often feel that it is not shown as often as possible. Is it available on VOD? Wouldn't that be something that would be perfect for VOD?
6993 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: VOD meaning?
6994 THE CHAIRPERSON: Video-on-demand.
6995 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: I don't think it is. I am not sure, I don't know if it is or not. I know that it is currently -- like the "Slovak Spectrum" program, ours is offered twice a month through Rogers and people watch it and people look forward to it. And I think just some of the comments, you know, from -- this is comments from seniors who probably don't know what video-on-demand is and probably couldn't use it if you tried to train them with it.
6996 But the idea that they would like to see more of the multicultural Greek programming rather than less. But definitely, the "Hellenic Kaleidoscope," which is also a program that has been in existence probably for over 30 years, is a very valuable resource to our community because it really helps bind our community and kind of demonstrates what our community is doing and kind of keeps our community members together.
6997 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, before you, we had Rogers here this morning and I asked them that very question. The woman from Rogers who is running community TV said with Rogers on Demand, which every Rogers customer gets -- if you are a Rogers cable customer, you also get Rogers on Demand. They are in the process of offering most of their community programming also there.
6998 For instance, for something like "Hellenic Kaleidoscope," which people may want to watch versions they have missed or they hear about it, et cetera, video-on-demand, if you could go on there and then say, oh, I can get last Friday's and see it, it seems to me would be very much of greater use to your community than the linear one that is available right now.
6999 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: There is definitely, you know, with the on demand video being available for other programming, I think -- I mean having that for a "Hellenic Kaleidoscope" program would definitely be a very good thing. I just don't know if it is accessible right now or not.
7000 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7001 And, Mr. Fajkor, you said the Rogers model works, it should be imposed on everyone. What do you mean by the Rogers model? I thought we had the same rule for everybody. That is why I am not quite sure what you mean when you say the Rogers model.
7002 MR. FAJKOR: Rogers actually approached most of the ethnic groups here and asked them whether they could produce programs for Rogers and that they would provide the studio, they would provide the editing, they would provide the cameras, et cetera, et cetera. All we had to do was provide the programming, provided it was non-political.
7003 THE CHAIRPERSON: And they train your people?
7004 MR. FRAJKOR: Pardon?
7005 THE CHAIRPERSON: I presume your people aren't trained in television. So they train your people in terms of editing, in terms of production, et cetera?
7006 MR. FRAJKOR: That is correct, they do that. Except in my case, I was a professional journalist.
7007 MR. FRAJKOR: In the case of everybody else, yes, that is exactly what they do. They teach our people to out and shoot. They teach them how to do paper edits. They teach them how to program -- put together a run sheet, et cetera, and get the program on the air.
7008 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
7009 Rita, I believe you have some questions?
7010 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Yes, just a couple of questions.
7011 Professor, I will continue with you. You say that the "Slovak Spectrum" has been on the air with Rogers for 30 years. Has it always been half an hour a month?
7012 MR. FRAJKOR: Yes, it has.
7013 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Have you approached Rogers to talk about distributing the program to the cable company in Gatineau to make it available on their community channel?
7014 MR. FRAJKOR: I did not, except to ask the question as to why they couldn't do it, and they said, well because that is a different licence. That company has a different licence. The cable company in Hull does what the cable company in Hull wants, whatever money is available to them.
7015 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Because, of course, the cable company in Gatineau is Vidéotron.
7016 MR. FRAJKOR: Yes.
7017 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Has your community gone to them --
7018 MR. FRAJKOR: We have not.
7019 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: -- with a proposal to produce a program?
7020 MR. FRAJKOR: We have not, but you have given me some good ideas.
7021 THE CHAIRPERSON: Offer them the Roger's program. There is no reason why Vidéotron can't rebroadcast the Rogers program as well.
7022 MR. FRAJKOR: Yes. I don't know what kind of arrangements cable companies can make amongst each other. We have contributed programs, for example, to a Slovak program in Toronto, "Slovensky Svet," which runs on OMNI, the Rogers station there. We have done stuff here. Mr. Malecek did some shooting and a few from me and we send it down to them. So I am presuming that this sort of thing can be done. But on the other hand, the bulk of the audience in Hull/Gatineau would be French-speaking and our main language around here is English.
7023 By the way, most of us are bilingual here, as you can gather from the names like Mary Ann Doucette and Anne Ladouceur, and I myself was brought up in Quebec and I am bilingual. But I think something, for example, like an interview with Adam Janosik, a hockey player for the Hull Olympiques, is in Slovak. It might appeal to the Slovaks in Hull, but why would a French station put it on?
7024 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: You did answer my next question, which was whether or not you have been able to contribute any of the programming from your community in Ottawa to the OMNI stations in Toronto and you have.
7025 MR. FRAJKOR: M'hmm.
7026 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Your overriding message about promoting multicultural programming in Canada, are you making a pitch for an OMNI-like station in Ottawa?
7027 MR. FRAJKOR: We don't have enough money.
7028 The way OMNI works, perhaps you are familiar with that, what they do is give you air time. You just have to produce an entire program, give them half an hour, you get one and a half minutes of commercials in it and they put in one and a half minutes of commercials. But we don't have a large enough audience here in Ottawa, first of all, to do that kind of major production and make enough money to cover the costs.
7029 Production is the problem. Production is the expensive part and what Rogers offers us is production.
7030 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Are there other forms of media within the Ottawa area where events in the Slovak community are promoted?
7031 MR. FRAJKOR: There is a -- we have a newspaper, Kanadsky Slovak, which is now more than 60 years old.
7032 MS DOUCETTE: Sixty-eight and it is the only Slovak weekly paper in North America.
7033 MR. FRAJKOR: And it now has a website because we are getting into the modern world, www.kanadskyslovak.com, in case you are interested.
7034 MR. FRAJKOR: And we are expanding the website so that it can run videos and pictures as well. So it will be text, the newspaper and videos, which is why I say there is a new modern world where distribution of something like video can also be done over the internet.
7035 But in that sense, the internet is like a public library rather than a station. You know, you can connect with it at the right time, whereas there is an advantage to telling people that every fourth Sunday of every month at 11:30 you can get "Slovak Spectrum" on Rogers. At least it is in everybody's mind forever.
7036 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you.
7037 Ms Makrodimitris, just a couple of questions for you.
7038 How long has the show been on Rogers?
7039 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: I don't know the exact number of years, but I think it is over 30 years.
7040 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And, as we heard from the group, was it Rogers that approached the Greek community?
7041 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: I believe so.
7042 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And how is it that the Greek community contributes to the program?
7043 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: We have a woman by the name of Voula Buckthought who has been hosting the program, I think, since its inception and she has been the one that does a lot of the coordinating of finding programming, whether it is the events that we host or having guest speakers from -- we have a community that is very diverse. We have professionals, whether they are doctors or lawyers or professors, that speak on a variety of topics.
7044 So throughout the events we have, Voula is the one that organizes it and finds people to help host the events if she can't do it. She has been recruiting younger people as well to get into the hosting of the programming and coordinates the whole content of the actual program.
7045 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And is she a volunteer?
7046 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: I believe so.
7047 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And do you know how many volunteers work on the show?
7048 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: Over the years, there have been a number of them. She usually requires people to come in and actually do the reading of the news. Currently, there is, I believe, one or two that assist Voula with that, plus I have seen three or four young people that have been behind the cameras and have been actually at various events doing the interviewing as well when Voula can't do it.
7049 So there have been a number over the years. I can't speak to how many but there have been a number.
7050 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And it is the same arrangement as the Slovak --
7051 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: It is the same arrangement, yes.
7052 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay. Now, I live in Toronto. March 25th, right, that is Greek Independence Day?
7053 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: A big day, yes.
7054 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: It is a huge day.
7055 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: Yes, a huge, huge day.
7056 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And it is covered as a news clip on mainstream media?
7057 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: Yes.
7058 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Does that happen here in Ottawa?
7059 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: You know, this year wasn't covered at all on mainstream media. Last year -- and, of course, it was my first year as President last year and it was pouring rain and it was windy and it was horrible and my hair was wet and I looked terrible and that is when CTV came out to do it.
7060 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: This year when it was beautiful and sunny and I looked presentable, nothing happened but that is okay.
7061 But Rogers is the one that comes and does -- because every year for the last -- I guess since about 2000 our community has been hosting a parade down through the centre of Ottawa with a band. We have the Mayor and the Chief of Police and different people that come and actually lay wreaths at the War Memorial and we parade to City Hall, and it is Rogers "Hellenic Kaleidoscope" program that does it. Sometimes we get the local TV stations and sometimes not. It is just what becomes available.
7062 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: The luck of the draw.
7063 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: Yes. So now there is video of me looking terrible and nothing of me looking --
7064 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Well, thank you very much, both of you, for taking the time to share your views with us today.
7065 Those are all my questions.
7066 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, I believe those are all our questions. Thank you very much for taking the time to participate.
7067 MS MAKRODIMITRIS: Thank you.
7068 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, Madame la Secrétaire, I think that is it for today.
7069 THE SECRETARY: Yes, we are done for the day and we will reconvene at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Thank you.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1507, to resume on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 0900
Johanne Morin Sue Villeneuve
Monique Mahoney Madeleine Matte
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